Deposit return scheme: Re-Turn acknowledges issues and says 1% of machines have been replaced

Numbers of returned containers are set to reach 100 million later this month despite customer complaints about reliability of machines

The company running the State’s recycling scheme for cans and plastic bottles has said it was aware of some “technical issues” that have impacted early reliability of some of its ‘reverse-vending’ machines.

However, Re-Turn said the issues have been addressed and “reliability has significantly improved” with the replacement rate of machines being around just 1 per cent.

The scheme operates by customers paying a returnable deposit on bottles and cans in shops and supermarkets and reclaiming a credit when they place the bottle or can in a reverse-vending machine.

The machine issues the customer a credit receipt that is accepted by the store which pays out cash, or takes the receipts in against shopping bills.


The machines took in two million returns in February, the month when the initiative started. This rose to 20 million in March and 50 million in April, it said.

In a single day, May 7th, it said the number of returned drinks containers amounted to 2.39 million. Re-turn says the number of returned containers taken in since February 1st will reach 100 million later this month. The company said it had added 500 machines since launch day.

Following complaints of poor performance of some machines, Re-turn said 2,300 machines were currently operational with some 23 replaced.

Re-turn also played down a video on social media that appeared to show a user placing a bottle on a string in the machine, and then pulling it back out again, to potentially claim multiple credits. A spokeswoman said a red light was clearly visible on the machine indicating no secondary credits were being paid.

The spokeswoman said attempting to defraud the scheme “is against the law and any evidence will be passed to the relevant authorities for further investigation”.

The company said the recycling scheme represented “a significant infrastructure roll-out” and “in such a large-scale initiative, initial challenges are inevitable but now represent a small minority of the overall experience”.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist