New recycling scheme shows that citizen action and campaigning works

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Citizen action, campaigning and work by VOICE and Friends of the Earth pushed the Government to introduce Deposit Return Scheme that will launch on Thursday.

Friends of the Earth welcomes the Government’s launch of a new nationwide Deposit Return Scheme that will start operating on Thursday, 1st February, with the aim of hugely increasing recycling rates for plastic bottles and aluminium cans in Ireland [1]. Environmental organisations VOICE Ireland and Friends of the Earth, supported by thousands of citizens and dozens of community action groups, used a variety of approaches, from campaigning, to community action and showcasing of pilot schemes to successfully pressure the Irish Government to introduce the Deposit Return Scheme.  

Commenting on this, Claudia Tormey of Friends of the Earth said

The Deposit Return Scheme coming to a shop near you is a real sign that campaigning for environmental actions works - and that ordinary people can make a real difference when we act together. 

The many, many volunteers who campaigned with us for a Deposit Return Scheme through our “Sick of Plastic” campaign with VOICE Ireland deserve to take a bow today. The creativity and passion in this campaign was second to none. 

From creating dramatic plastic pollution displays outside government buildings and supermarkets, to running Cup Return stations at festivals, our Sick of Plastic activists and volunteers not only forced the Government to open its eyes to Ireland’s plastic pollution but also demonstrated that solutions existed. Our campaigning is now forcing the Government to implement these solutions, the Deposit Return Scheme being one of them. Now that we’ve got this Scheme in place, much needed focus can go towards reducing the amount of packaging that supermarkets force into our homes in the first place because recycling, while important, cannot be seen as a substitute for preventing waste at source.”

Thousands of Irish people have called for a Deposit Return Scheme in Ireland and there is broad public support for same. Combined efforts by Friends of the Earth, VOICE Ireland and Uplift brought in over 30,000 signatures on a petition calling for Government action on plastic pollution, including the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme. Polling commissioned by VOICE Ireland found that 86% of people surveyed said that they would participate in the Deposit Return Scheme, with 84% of them seeing it as a beneficial environmental measure [2]. 

While Friends of the Earth warmly welcomes the Deposit Return Scheme we are calling on the Government and on businesses to ensure it is not used as a substitute for measures to reduce excessive amounts of packaging on consumer goods. Measures to reduce the amount of single use containers are urgently needed and moves towards using reusable vessels and containers must be made at speed. Friends of the Earth is also calling on the Government to heed concerns raised by disability advocates regarding the Deposit Return Scheme and to ensure that the scheme is made accessible for all. 


  1. Ireland will soon be introducing a Deposit Return Scheme. From February 2024 onwards, when you buy a drink in a plastic bottle, aluminium or steel can that features the Re-turn logo, you pay a small deposit in addition to the price of the drink. When you return your empty and undamaged drink container to participating shops and supermarket, you get your deposit back in full. See more information about the Scheme here:

  2. For more details on this polling see: