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Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers progresses

Northern Ireland Executive
20 Jan 2023

Consumers in Northern Ireland, England and Wales will be able to recycle their plastic and canned drink containers more easily through a new Deposit Return Scheme set to be introduced in 2025.

Every year NI consumers go through an estimated 420 million plastic drinks bottles and 90 million drinks cans, many of which are littered or condemned to landfill.  Evidence has shown that a Deposit Return Scheme can become a simple part of daily life to make recycling easier - recycling rates in countries such as Germany, Finland, and Norway, which employ such a scheme, are above 90%. Current recycling rates for drinks containers in the UK have plateaued at around 70%.

Through a small refundable deposit placed on single-use drinks containers, the Deposit Return Scheme will incentivise people to recycle their drinks bottles and cans to redeem their deposits. Evidence suggests that an effective scheme could increase recycling rates to at least 90%, reducing littering of these drinks containers by around 85%, and reduce plastic pollution. DAERA will work with its counterparts in England and Wales and with industry to press ahead with delivery of the scheme. 

In addition to the Deposit Return Scheme, DAERA is also introducing an Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme for packaging, which will mean packaging producers and manufactures will cover the costs of recycling and disposing of their packaging. This will drive higher collection and recycling rates of packaging and covers any drinks containers not included in the DRS such as glass, cartons, or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, which is used for most fresh milk packaging.

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