New Deposit Return Scheme regulations welcomed by Irish Environmental organisation, VOICE, as important move to reduce plastics, aluminium and litter waste


It’s been a long time in the making but, with the Government’s publication of regulations for the Deposit Return Scheme (19/11/21) , we have made a significant step forward from discussion to the legally binding. It didn’t make the headlines and isn’t earth-shattering news but it is an incredibly welcome development. It will, should it develop in line with the best international standards, make a huge difference to our recycling rates of plastic bottles and cans in this country, to say nothing of the environmental benefits as these previously ubiquitous litter items are rebranded as money and who’s going to throw money away?!

VOICE has been at the forefront of the push to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme for a very long time and for a very simple reason – it is a straightforward and common sense approach to increase recycling rates and decrease littering rates. Concurrent with this, it also raises awareness about the importance of responsible resource use. VOICE’s Return for Change campaign has been struck by the near universal support for its introduction; it appears that everyone appreciates how useful and beneficial the scheme will be. We now need to ensure that we get the best DRS possible and we will work hard to make sure we get exactly that.

Colin O'Byrne

Campaign Lead


With the litter problem reaching new levels throughout the country during Covid-19 restrictions over the past year, we have seen the environmental and economic problem caused by littering- especially drink containers. But there is a solution - a robust Deposit Return Scheme.

VOICE has estimated that in Ireland alone we generate about 3 billion single-use plastic bottles and over 582 million aluminium cans each year. Unfortunately, only 60-70% of them are ever collectedfor recycling while the remaining circa 30% end up disposed in landfills/incinerators or littered in our natural environment.

Video kindly shared by Carrickmacross Tidy Towns for use in the Return for Change campaign.

The EU Single-use Plastics Directive has given us a legal target to collect 90% of plastic bottles by 2030 and there is now a commitment under the ‘Programme for Government’,  to introduce the Deposit Return Legislation to help achieve this target. As aluminium cans will be included in the DRS, we are seeking a similar collection rate of 90%.  

 The proposed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) means that each plastic bottles and aluminium can will have a deposit that can be redeemed by consumers when they return the containers to retailers.  Deposit Return Schemes work very well throughout the EU and the world, and have proven to be successful in maximising the return of drinks containers.

DRS legislation is being drafted by the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications which aims to have a DRS to be rolled out by the end of 2022. VOICE has campaigned for such a system for nearly 20 years and are happy to see the legislation for a DRS finally progressing. VOICE welcomes this legislation as a step towards the promotion of the wise use of natural resources and we envision that this system will eventually expand to include reusable drinks containers that will enable a truly circular economy.  

Soon VOICE will be launching the ‘Return For Change’ campaign to ensure that the proposed DRS legislation is strong enough to make a real difference. The campaign will also raise awareness about how a Deposit Return Scheme will work and how it can help reduce the problem of litter.  

Carrickmacross Tidy Town has successfully operated a Deposit Return / Recycle & Reward Scheme in collaboration with O'Gorman’s Supervalu and Shabra Recycling since October 2019. If you'd like to see how it's worked for them, please watch their video (above)

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