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The Deposit Return Scheme: Everything you need to know

Drinks in plastic bottles or aluminium cans that feature the Re-turn logo will carry a deposit on top of the cost of the product from next month

What is happening – and when?

From the start of next month, if you buy a drink in a plastic bottle or aluminium can that features the Re-turn logo, you will pay a deposit on top of the cost of the product.

Just how much more will I have to pay?

Well, it depends on the size of the receptacle. There will be an automatic 15 cent deposit added to bottles and cans of between 150ml and 500ml, and a 25 cent deposit added to bottles and cans of between 500ml and three litres.

That’s pretty hefty – how will I get my money back?

You will simply bring back the empty, undamaged containers to one of more than 2,000 shops around the country that will be taking part in the scheme, and put them in a reverse vending machine – that’s a concept that might be unfamiliar to you now, but won’t be for long. The machine will scan the bar code and issue you with a voucher that you can then spend in the shop where you returned the bottle or can.

You say undamaged?

Yes, that’s important. You’ll have to resist the urge to crush the cans or mangle the bottles after you have finished with them to make more space in the bag you have set aside for your empties before bringing them in bulk to the shop.


Is it only shops with the fancy new machines that I can bring the bottles back to?

Smaller shops will accept returns over the counter. They will then issue a voucher by hand. Shops - including newsagents and convenience stores - that are less than 250 square meters in size can avail of an exemption from participation in the scheme.*

And are these vouchers transferable between stores?

No. If you drop your bottles or cans into your local Tesco, the voucher will be for Tesco. If you do the necessary in Aldi, you get an Aldi voucher.

What if a bottle I have doesn’t have this logo?

There will most likely be stock on the shop shelves in the initial phase belonging to what will soon be a past era. As you won’t have paid a deposit on those containers, you should recycle them in the normal fashion.


Have you noticed these machines in your local supermarket? #depositreturnscheme #recycle #return

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If I don’t get round to returning the bottles or cans, can I still put them in my recycling bin?

This is what Re-turn have to say on that score. “We would ask that consumers return their plastic bottles and cans with the Re-turn logo to local participating shops and supermarkets to redeem their deposit. The separate collection of these plastic bottles and cans [by Re-turn] guarantees a high-quality recyclate material is returned and recycled, and there is no cross contamination.”

And are all drinks containers included in the scheme?

No, only drinks in PET plastic bottles, aluminium and steel cans from 150ml to three litres are included. They will all feature the Re-turn logo. Among the items not included are all dairy drinks products in plastic containers or cartons. Steel and tin cans that contain foodstuffs and containers for cleaning supplies. These should continue to be disposed of in recycling bins.

What about glass?

These are not included in the scheme either.

*This article was amended on January 24th, 2024

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Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast