Foodservice Footprint DRS Ireland’s DRS proving increasingly popular Drinks Sector News  news-email email-news

Ireland’s DRS proving increasingly popular

More than 2 million drinks containers have been returned in the first month of Ireland’s deposit return scheme (DRS).

The scheme’s operator, Re-turn, recorded February 29th as the most active day with 200,999 drinks containers returned. However, this daily figure “continues to increase” as more consumers become familiar with the scheme.

The EU has set Ireland a target to separate and collect 77% of plastic beverage bottles and aluminium cans by 2025. This target will rise to 90% in 2029. Currently, around 60% of drinks containers are recycled.

Re-turn CEO Ciaran Foley said the scheme would help Ireland reach its recycling targets and “early indications suggest we could reach this ahead of schedule”.

The new figures arrived as planned schemes in the UK faced further potential delays. The ‘i’ newspaper this week reported that England’s DRS may not be in operation until 2028. The scheme should have been rolled out last year, according to the original timetable set out in the government’s resources and waste strategy 2018.

“That we still do not have a DRS in place is a damning reflection on their [the Conservative government’s] timidity in government,” said City to Sea policy manager Steve Hynd. Scotland’s scheme has also been severely delayed.

In Ireland there are now 2,193 reverse vending machines across 1,380 return locations. The schemes are also active across 15 European countries and have successfully promoted positive recycling practices, according to supporters. 

“We hugely appreciate everyone’s patience during the four-month transition period as retailers sell through older not-in-scope stock,” said Foley. 

In the UK, industry has lobbied to delay the schemes until the devolved nations can agree on one scheme. In its recently published manifesto, the Food & Drink Federation called on the UK government to “ensure certainty for drinks manufacturers by implementing a single, interoperable UK DRS as soon as possible, aligning scope and labelling requirements in all four nations”.