Seanad debates

Thursday, 21 March 2024

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Recycling Policy

9:30 am

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick County, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

The deposit return scheme, DRS, was introduced to incentivise more people to recycle plastic bottles and cans to help deliver on our ambitious EU targets for the recycling of these products. Under the single-use plastics directive, we are obliged to recycle 90% of our plastic bottles by 2029 with an interim target of 77% by the end of next year. The deposit return scheme will increase the quantity of bottles and cans being collected for recycling and will result in less going to landfill or incineration or becoming litter. The deposit return scheme was in development for several years prior to going live in February of this year. To inform the design of the scheme, the Department undertook two public consultations. The first was in October 2020 and the second was in April 2021. These provided all parties with an opportunity to submit their views to the Department on how the deposit return scheme should operate. Since its appointment as the deposit return scheme operator in July 2022, Re-Turn has also consulted widely with stakeholders to help them to prepare for the introduction of the scheme.

The scheme is a national infrastructure project which operates primarily on a return-to-retail model. Under the DRS regulations, retailers are required to charge customers a deposit for each bottle sold, to take back empty containers and to refund the deposit to customers. Retailers are also required to ensure that the take-back facility they provide on their premises is accessible for anyone wishing to return empty containers.

The DRS represents one of the biggest changes in consumer behaviour in decades. Consumer participation and inclusivity for all consumers is essential for a successful deposit return scheme. An extensive national communications campaign is under way to ensure that every member of the public is aware of and understands what the scheme is and how it operates. Individuals who have difficulties in returning bottles and cans to their local retailer should contact Re-turn directly. It will work with the local retail community to find the solution that works best for all involved. Re-Turn is committed to ensuring that all locations are accessible to consumers and is working closely with retailers to embed best practice, ensuring the system nationally is optimised as regards convenience and accessibility for all.


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