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Bottle bank

Plastic containers in one end, cash out the other at recycling machines


Machines like this one in Germany could become common

Machines like this one in Germany could become common

Machines like this one in Germany could become common

Shoppers will reap the rewards from new machines that take in recycled plastic bottles and drinks cans and print out cash vouchers.

The system is part of a new deposit and return scheme aimed at preventing recyclable drink containers ending up in bins or as litter.

A public consultation will begin soon to decide the final format, but the idea is that machines will be installed at shops and other accessible places for use by customers and the public.

People can drop in a bottle or can or bring along a bagful from home.

In return, they will get a reward, most likely in the form of a voucher for use in the shop hosting the drop-off point or in participating outlets.

The value of the reward will be built into the price of the item when bought, with 10 cent thought to be a starting figure.

Autumn 2022 is the target date for the scheme's introduction, but it will need the agreement of retailers and recycling firms. Waste companies are hostile to it.


The Irish Waste Management Association said it would not increase recycling rates and could collapse the existing green bin service.

Spokesman Conor Walsh said it would need 2,600 machines, costing €100m, to collect the same number of bottles and cans already collected by its members.

"So, €100m spent to replicate the existing system, but in a way that makes it far more difficult for people to recycle and also threatens the financial viability of the existing system," he said.

The scheme is one of 200 measures in the national Waste Action Plan published by Clim-ate Action Minister Eamon Ryan.

A levy on disposable coffee cups will be introduced in early 2022 as a precursor to a total ban. Similar restrictions are flagged for cold-drink cups.

Multi-packs of food also face a ban, particularly fresh foods that shoppers buy in two-for-one style offers but often do not get to eat before they spoil.

A range of single-use plastic items will be banned from next July, with new items to be added as time goes on.

Waste prevention is vital for a cleaner environment, but also for cutting energy and fuel use in manufacturing, transport, storage and disposal, which produce carbon emissions and exacerbate the climate crisis.


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