Deposit Return Scheme

The Deposit Return Scheme is an initiative to support the recycling of empty drinks containers. It was introduced under environmental law by the Separate Collection (Deposit Return Scheme) Regulations 2021 (S.I. No. 599 of 2021). The Deposit Return Scheme is operational from 1 February 2024. Under the Scheme, anyone who buys a drink in a:

  • plastic bottle
  • or
  • can

will be charged a small deposit for the container. Customers are entitled to a refund of the deposit when they return the empty container to a retailer or other collection point to be recycled.

Businesses that sell drinks which are consumed on the premises, such as:

  • pubs
  • bars

and

  • restaurants

will not have to charge the deposit to customers.

Is VAT charged on the deposit?

The deposit is charged at each stage of the supply chain when the drink product is supplied. There is no Value-Added Tax (VAT) on the deposit when the drink product is supplied. Businesses in a supply chain supplying Deposit Return Scheme products will not have to account for VAT on the deposit they charge. An example of such businesses are:

  • producers
  • wholesalers
  • or
  • retailers.

Under VAT law, the deposit amount will be regarded as nil when the drink product is moving through the supply chain.  A VAT liability will arise on the deposits when empty plastic bottles or cans are not returned. In this case, the operator of the scheme will be the person who is liable for the VAT due.