Submissions invited on the design of Irelands Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)

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The Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan T.D., today (2 October 2020) has invited the public to give their views on the design of a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles and aluminium cans.

The Programme for Government – Our Shared Future – and the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy set out the Government’s commitment to introduce a Deposit and Return Scheme (DRS) for plastic bottles (up to 3 litres in volume) and aluminium cans.

The public consultation paper published today suggests a deposit of €0.20 per container, with submissions invited from the public and stakeholders on the design of the Scheme. The primary function of a DRS is to increase recycling rates and support the circular economy by keeping materials in productive use and reducing demand for new materials. They have also been shown to assist in the reduction of littering of beverage containers.

Deposit and return schemes have been around for decades and were originally designed by the beverage industry as a way of ensuring the return of bottles so they could be washed, refilled and resold. In Ireland, some people will remember this as a system that was previously used to ensure that glass milk and soft-drink bottles were returned for reuse. In a DRS a refundable deposit is applied to beverage containers to incentivise consumers to return their beverage containers for recycling or reuse.

Speaking at the publication, Minister Ryan said:

‘If we are to get the benefits of a circular economy we need to adapt our approach to how we use and manage our resources. We must strive to keep resources in circulation for as long as possible and the introduction of a DRS is a first step in this, as we need to collect and recycle more plastic bottles and aluminium cans. It will also help to reduce litter and will ensure that we meet the EU targets which are coming down the tracks. This consultation paper is the first step in this process and I hope that interested stakeholders and members of the public take the time to consider the issues around DRS and support its introduction’.

Notes to the Editor:

The Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy, published by Minister Ryan on 4 September outlined the steps that would be taken to lead to the introduction of the scheme. These steps are:

  1. A public consultation on design options- being launched today for a period of six weeks.
  2. Public consultation on preferred model and draft regulations (Q1 2021);
  3. Commencement of underpinning legislation (Q3 2021);
  4. Introduction of scheme (Q3 2022).

Alongside this consultation paper, which sets out how potential DRS models could operate in Ireland, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications is also publishing a report it commissioned from Eunomia Research and Consulting to analyse options for Ireland to increase its capture of plastic bottles and aluminium beverage containers. 

To facilitate a structured response, the paper poses some questions for consideration.  Respondents are not required to respond to all questions and are free to raise other relevant points.   All submissions are welcome and will be considered in developing the new Deposit and Refund Scheme.

The closing date for submissions is 5pm, Thursday 12 November, 2020.

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