The Fed demands clarity on Ireland DRS launch

A deposit of 15c will apply to containers 500ml or less and a deposit of 25c for each container above 500ml

DRS deposit return scheme RVM reverse vending machine

Fed members in Ireland have demanded clarity over the launch of a deposit return scheme (DRS) due to be introduced in the country in February 2024. 

The scheme, called Re-turn, was announced last week by the Irish government to boost recycling rates for drinks containers. However, the Irish timeline between announcement and start date is the shortest of any scheme planned in the British Isles, raising concerns from all parties in the supply chain. 

It will include PET plastic bottles and aluminium and steel cans between 150ml and three litres. 

A deposit of 15c will apply to containers 500ml or less and a deposit of 25c for each container above 500ml. 

Launching the scheme, Ossian Smyth, minister of state for communications and the circular economy, said: “The scheme is a massive undertaking for producers and retailers and Re-turn, the producer-led company, has shown great commitment and leadership in coming together to develop it.” 

Tony Keohane, chair of DRS Ireland, said: “DRS has been a success in more than 40 other jurisdictions around the world, and will help us reach our recycling targets. 

“We look forward to continued collaboration with producers and retailers in establishing a DRS that delivers significant environmental benefits for everyone.” 

However, the government has not yet revealed the level of handling fees retailers will receive, or confirmed whether or not some retailers will be eligible for exemption. 

Currently, all retailers are required to register for the scheme. 

District president for Ireland Martin Mulligan said: “We’re not getting a lot of information. We need a lot more information, sooner rather than later. We support the idea of a DRS, but it can’t place too much of a burden on retailers. We need something simple and workable.” 

EuroSpar owner Terry Mulkerns, whose store sits on the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, urged the government to coordinate schemes. “Northern Ireland doesn’t have processing infrastructure, so if the countries don’t share a scheme, there will be extra cost in transporting waste. The schemes should be harmonised.” 

He described a system of applying separate barcodes to containers in each country, similar to that planned between Scotland and England, as “a real headache”, and added: “We already have complicated enough supply chains.” 

Under the Single-Use Plastics Directive, Ireland must ensure separate collection of 77% of plastic drinks bottles placed on the market by 2025, rising to 90% in 2029. Retailers are legally required to register at re-turn.ie. 

In Scotland, DRS goes live in August 2023. The UK government has not announced a date for England, Wales or Northern Ireland. 

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