Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers progresses

Date published: 20 January 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.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Download more details regarding the Government response to Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).
  2. The materials captured in the deposit return scheme in Northern Ireland and England will be single-use drinks containers made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, steel, and aluminium. Materials captured in Wales will also include glass. 
  3. More details on the 2021 consultation on the Deposit Return Scheme can be found on the DAERA website. Download more details on the Extended Producer Responsibility 
  4. Regulations made using powers in the Environment Act 2021 will be used to establish the DRSs in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Government aims to take secondary legislation through Parliament (and Senedd in Wales) which will set the framework for, and obligations under, the schemes. 
  5. The UK Government for England, the Welsh Government and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland have consulted jointly on DRS in 2019 and 2021. Both consultations have shown overwhelming support for the introduction of the scheme.
  6. Glass bottles will not be captured by DRS in England and Northern Ireland, but bottles will be covered by the Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging scheme, which will place targets on producers in relation to glass recycling. 
  7. The approach to be taken in Northern Ireland and its participation in the new Deposit Return Scheme was agreed by the former DAERA Minister before leaving office.
  8. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office.
  9. Follow DAERA on Twitter  and Facebook.
  10. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays.  The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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