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Deposit Return Scheme


Countries have started to implement the deposit return scheme. The rate of transition to the deposit return scheme has increased in recent years. Beginning in early 2021, many new countries will begin implementing the deposit return scheme. Deposit Return Scheme Scotland, Deposit Return Scheme Turkey, Deposit Return Scheme UK, Deposit Return Scheme Spain, Deposit Return Scheme Spain, Deposit Return Scheme Israel and Deposit Return Scheme Ireland have same purposes for recycling. Reverse vending machines is the most popular tool for collect empty beverages.

The Problem

Single-use plastic products are usually tossed out into a garbage bin or are disposed of in the environment. On average, just 9 percent of it is recycled. By financing in a deposit refund scheme and establishing financial incentives for buyers to recycle plastic or glass items. Several countries worldwide have seen a substantial increase in recycling rates.

The Solution

DRS (Deposit Return Schemes) is a system where customers spend a small amount of money to be repaid to them when they submit the glass or plastic container to the collection point after they have finished utilising it. The container would then be reused and changed into secondary raw materials. DRS is usually operated by a government or autonomous body. This specialist is accountable for managing the scheme procedure from beginning to end, from the establishment of the essential structures to the checking of the deposit fee circuit that moves from manufacturers to vendors and from vendors to customers. The DRS system applies the polluter-pays guideline, where individuals are financially incentivised to reuse instead of wasting them. It is generally executed to gather and recycle beverage bottles and cans that are made up of glass, plastic and metal as they could be easily changed into secondary raw materials [2]. Typically, the amount of fee paid by consumers for every product can range from €0.15 to €0.50, based upon the volume and kind of the beverage container. Currently, there are 40 nations and 21 United States provinces with some type of DRS in operation. Some of the countries that are planning to implement deposit refund schemes in the future are Scotland (in 2022 or 2023), Northern Ireland (in 2022 or 2023), Portugal (in 2022), New Zealand (in 2022). Turkey (2022 or 2023), Romania (in 2022), Slovakia (in 2022), England, Wales (in 2023 or 2024), Australia (in 2022), Malta (in 2022), Latvia (in 2022) and Victoria, Australia (in 2023).

One of the main reasons as to why countries need to start implementing deposit return schemes is because it has provided several hidden advantages to society as well as the environment. Some of the main advantages of the deposit return scheme for the environment are less plastic pollutants poured into the sea, on roads and parks. By providing financial incentives to decrease litter and the number of recyclable items that are dumped in landfills. For example, in less than 2 years, the New South Wales deposit return scheme collected 3 billion beverage containers and helped decrease the number of empty beverage containers dumped on streets or oceans by 57 percent. Less power or raw materials are required to manufacture new beverage containers and less litter is dumped into landfills, which helps to protect the environment for the future generation. Deposit return schemes also help to simplify the recycling streams, which helps to produce good quality recycled items. Food products or scraps that cannot be recycled end up within the recycling bin. It could sometimes result in recyclables being transformed into low-quality products.

Simplifying the recycling stream helps to give more control to the recyclers and produced good quality recycled products. A deposit return scheme provides a clean waste stream where the obtained beverage containers recovered are arranged effectively. The materials, for example, aluminum , glass and plastic that are gathered are exceptionally recyclable and are transformed into good quality recycled items that have a strong market worth. These items are also bound to be recycled once again. For instance, because of contamination, glass items are crushed and transformed into new items, such as street base. Nonetheless, beverage containers that are made up of glass that is collected through a deposit return scheme can be transformed into new beverage bottles, so the procedure and items have a higher worth. A deposit return scheme also helps to create more local job opportunities. The recycling industry is valued at $15 billion to the Australian economy and has several positive social and economical benefits. By recycling empty beverage containers, businesses are able to create more job opportunities than sending empty beverage containers directly to landfills. For every 12,000 tons of recyclable waste, it helps to create 9,200 job opportunities, in comparison to, if 12,000 tons of waste is sent directly to landfill, it just creates 2,800 job opportunities [2].

Deposit Return Scheme Scotland

Scotland’s DRS (Deposit Return Scheme Scotland)  for beverage containers is the main foundation of the Scottish’s Government techniques to address problems associated with climate change, improve recycling rates and decrease trash. It is predicted that 4 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions will decrease in the next 25 years due to the deposit return scheme scotland. It is equal to approximately 160,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year, which is equivalent to taking 85,000 vehicles off the street. Deposit Return Scheme Scotland will need buyers to deposit 20p when they buy a can, glass container or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) plastic bottle. The money is afterwards repaid when the empty bottle are returned, which helps to contribute to a circular economy. Circularity Scotland plans to work with different organisations in the SC (Supply Chain), from manufactures to vendors and contractors to provide a framework that is anticipated to gather at least 85 to 90 percent of beverage containers across Scotland. According to a study conducted by the Scottish government called “Zero Waste Scotland” anticipates that 35,000 less plastic and glass containers and cans will be tossed out into the garbage each day after the introduction of the deposit return scheme in Scotland. With hundreds of return points set up throughout the country, £60 million each year could be saved that is typically used to tackle the direct and indirect effects of litter.

Deposit Return Scheme Turkey

In 2021, the Turkish government decided to introduce DRS by 1st January, 2022 to protect Turkey’s 8,000 kilometers coastline. The forthcoming deposit return scheme is expected to decrease different types of litter, such as terrestrial and marine litter and help impose a ban within the country regarding damaging packaging waste into landfills. One of the main reasons as to why the Turkish government decided to introduce DRS is because it will increase to plastic and glass containers recycling by 250 percent and help transform 811,000 tons of glass and plastic containers that is usually dumped into landfills every year into secondary raw materials. The net effect is to decrease 263,000 tons of greenhouse gases that are usually emitted into the atmosphere each year, estimated at ₺62.2 million and making improvements to the quality of air valued at ₺56.5 million. The Deposit Return Scheme Turkey will also help decrease littering by approximately 80 to 85 percent by preventing 31,000 tons of waste being disposed off into the ocean each year. Because of the effect of littering on citizens health, businesses, community and the tourism industry, the yearly litter deduction will help provide benefits to the individuals living in Turkey worth ₺583 million. The Turkey’s deposit return scheme works the same way as any other deposit return scheme. When a consumer submits an empty glass or plastic container, the sensor within the machine scans the container to determine the size of the glass or plastic. The deposit return machine will repay the customer ₺2 when they submit a 0.33 plastic bottle. The machine will repay the customer ₺6 when they submit a 1 litre plastic bottle and repay ₺9 when they submit a 1.5 litre plastic bottle. However, for a beverage can that is made up of aluminum , the deposit return machine will repay ₺9 for a 0.5 litre can and ₺7 for a 0.33 litre can. By 2023, The Deposit Return Scheme Turkey will help the Turkish government save up to ₺20 billion and it will also help create 100,000 job opportunities. The Turkish government also decided to set up deposit return scheme machines in metro stations since people in Turkey tend to prefer public transportation rather than their own personal cars. So people will find it more convenient to use.

Deposit Return Scheme UK

In 2019, the UK government noticed an increase in public interest regarding the impact packaging waste have on the environment. Citizens living in the United Kingdom tend to roughly go through 15 billion water bottles made up of plastic, 10 billion beverage cans and 6 billion bottles made up of glass each year. Even though bottles that are made up of plastic are completely recyclable, current packaging recycling rates indicate that there is a huge chance of making improvements to the process of recycling beverage containers. Therefore, littering drink containers is a significant problem, which needs to be overcome by implementing different waste management strategies or techniques. Disposable containers are usually found to be the most common items that are dumped on United Kingdom beaches. Combined with the increasing awareness about plastic waste in UK seas, the significance of motivating behaviour change to quit littering at source and, preferably, emphasise capturing or conserving valuable raw materials. By the end of 2018, the public authorities of the United Kingdom initiated a resource and waste policy. The main objective of this policy is to make the United Kingdom a global leader in resource productivity and efficacy, which will also help to improve its position in the international market. The policy summarizes how the public authorities will need to work towards the goals of producing zero waste, increase the resource productivity level and emitting zero greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by 2050. They will also focus on maximising the worth they extract from the resources and reduce the amount of waste produced and the negative impacts it has on the environment.

The government of the United Kingdom plans to launch a digital deposit return scheme called “Reward4Waste” across the United Kingdom by 2024. The spearheading solution utilises digitisation to capture in-scope beverage containers (that is of any size or made up of either aluminum , plastic or glass) so residents can reuse them at home, in a hurry, utilising a reverse vending machine or smart bins. Reward4Waste is better for the users, businesses, economy and the environment. For instance, it helps to change clients behaviour about recycling by provide incentives and rewards to consumers who recycle their litter, rather than just tossing it out into a dustbin. It also helps to increase an economy’s worth in the international market by recycling and reusing recycled products. Capturing data regarding consumers behaviour recycle over a specific period of time to understand what encourages and discourages individuals to recycle their waste. With a digital deposit return scheme uk, Reward4Waste works inside existing recycling and waste management systems, which helps to reduce the carbon footprint and cost of setting up a deposit return scheme uk.  Reward4Waste works by identifying unique codes that are created and placed on every in-scope beverage container. Residents can utilise the free Reward4Waste application to record their reusing and reclaim their discounts, scan the unique codes on their beverage container to capture a recycle. Transactions are then recorded using green Blockchain. Blockchain helps to provide a digital record that is a constantly growing distributed database. Blockchain is used in digital deposit return schemes or Reward4Waste is because it offers permanence security and is fraud-proof.

The Coca-Cola Company in the United Kingdom has introduced a vending machine that is operated using Artificial Intelligence. Consumers could utilise these machines to both, purchase beverages and return and recycle used beverage cans and bottles. By incorporating sales with recycling capacities, the machine is assisting the organisation with accomplishing sustainable goals. Artificial Intelligence, for example, sound interaction and facial recognition are also included in this vending machine, guaranteeing a completely interactive experience for consumers. The vending machine includes 2 eyes, one is used for accessing beverages that are purchased by the consumers and the other one is used for returning beverage cans and bottles that need to be recycled. Customers who purchase a beverage may also get a reminder on their mobile phone to return the empty bottle or can earn points or rewards through recycling. The machine also obtains IoT (Internet of Things) maintenance data for prescient maintenance calculations. Integrating the Internet of Things technology and data analysis provides extra operation and client assistance support for Coca-Cola’s different tasks and distribution divisions. With SC (Supply Chain) frameworks controlled by Artificial Intelligence, the machine is able to record and balance sales and recycling.

Unilever and the Alibaba Group have built an Artificial Intelligence empowered recycling framework that consequently recognises and sorts different types of plastic packaging. The main purpose of this particular recycling frame is to speed up the procedure of getting high-grade plastic back into the economy and move UK organisations and customers towards a waste-free world. Unilever has united with the Alibaba Group to create UK’s first huge-scale closed-loop plastic reusing framework. The combined initiative called “Waste-Free World” is an extremely important part of Unilever’s drive to tackle the main causes that lead to plastic waste. It also encourages companies to think differently about the different types of biodegradable materials they can use for packaging, instead of plastic. Every machine is equipped with innovative Artificial Intelligence technology, which automatically recognises various types of plastic bottles. The customers just need to utilise utilize Alipay – Alibaba’s e-wallet service to scan and check the QR code shown on the screen of the machine and afterwards deposit the used bottle into a recycling bin. That is all there is to it, the machine accomplishes all difficult tasks. Utilising Artificial Intelligence technology automatically identify the type of plastic that is used to produce the beverage bottles sorts it and stores it, so that it could be collected and returned to different recycling centres. The recycling centres need to make sure that they improve the quality of the recycled plastic instead of degrading the quality of the recycled plastic. The system has proven to be a win-win situation for customers who are hoping to make more sustainable lifestyle decisions and for organisations who want to reuse plastic packaging.

Deposit Return Scheme Spain

The government of Spain decided to implement both, multi-use deposit return scheme spain and a single-use deposit scheme spain. Multi-use deposit return schemes have been developed for quite a while. This is the way they work: a drink is packaged, moved, and consumed. Afterwards, the beverage containers are returned, cleaned, and utilised once again. Bottles that are made up of glass can be recycled or reused more than 40 times. Bottles that are made up of Polyethylene Terephthalate can be reused almost 25 times. This helps to conserve raw materials, reduce the amount of energy used to manufacture new beverage bottles and decrease the amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted into the atmosphere when producing new drink bottles, in comparison to, single-use containers. Multi-use deposit return schemes are typically industry initiatives. A few of these systems have been utilised by industries for quite a long time, for instance for bottles utilised to transport soft drinks or milk. The amount of the deposit indicates the manufacture’s financial interest in regaining its containers. Bottles that can be reused are typically made up of Polyethylene Terephthalate or glass and occasionally comes in cartons, on which a deposit can also be added. From an ecological perspective, multi-use bottles are more beneficial, in comparison to, single-use bottled as long as the pathway chosen to transport multi-use containers is not very long-in any case, the energy expenses and carbon dioxide emissions overpower the advantages. Several reuse processes of bottles help to save natural resources and decrease greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere during the production stage, then for single-use bottles. The benefits of multi-use bottles are legitimate along the whole worth chain (creation, transport, and removal) and increase with the repeated utilisation of uniform bottles. These benefits are decreased with the use of different types of bottles as the logistics get more expensive and complicated. Generally, the question of how frequently a bottle could be reused relies on the material that was used to produce the particular bottle and its break resistance. Usually, multi-use bottles are much heavier, in comparison to, a single-use bottle since multi-use container needs to be stronger. For instance, glass beverage containers could be reused more than 40 times, which is significantly higher, in comparison to, containers made up of Polyethylene Terephthalate. Simultaneously, higher weight prompts higher energy costs to transport.

From an economical perspective, starting and building up a deposit return scheme system is frequently viewed as pricey and the question that is raised is whether the investment is worth it or not. In any case, when considering the decreased expenses for collecting waste and cleaning up landfills, the savings for regions are huge. Multi-use frameworks specifically need considerable investments to build up the collection system and clean up containers that are returned to be recycled. However, the operational cost is usually lower than for single-use frameworks. On the other hand, cleaning bottled increases costs and the price of the actual container itself (which is typically greater than single-use containers due to particular material prerequisites) and the transport logistics. On the contrary, because of the lower number of bottles utilised in total, these additional costs are recovered easily. Despite the higher costs due to long transportation distances, a multi-use system is also beneficial for the local distribution of products even though the overall transportation distance is short. Nonetheless, global organizations with a few decentralised filling plants could also profit from multi-use bottles. Considering the social dimension, it ought to be noticed that multi-use frameworks will help create more job opportunities, in comparison to, single-use frameworks since there is more labour force required along the chain (producing, transporting, cleaning and refilling). A multi-use system is a perfect example of extended manufacturer responsibilities as the industry or business bears the operational cost and takes the responsibility for the materials.

From an ecological point of view, single-use bottles are less profitable, in comparison to, multi-use bottles, especially when short distances are involved. More natural resources and energy is required for producing single-use containers. For long distances, these negative impacts are usually overpowered by the advantages. A positive impact single-use containers can have on the environment is that the collection rates of single-use bottles are usually high where single-use DRAS is set up, so a significant amount of single-origin packaging materials could be collected. This helps to increase the use of recyclables and helps to decrease resources used to produce new single-use containers. In addition, a single-use system is more adaptable and convenient for consumers, for example, since smaller containers are sold, which is frequently seen as valuable because of its lightweight. For global trade, a single-use container could simplify the entire procedure since the distribution structure could be streamlined [3].

Deposit Return Scheme Israel

Israel’s container deposit legislation was passed in 1999 and was executed in October 2001 after initially being planned to start in April 2000. Primarily, just 100mL and 1.5 litre bottles were permitted to be recycled. The program has since been revised to include 1.5 litre plastic refreshment bottles and will include 5 litre plastic refreshment bottles by 31st October 2021 [4]. Importers and manufacturers are in charge of collecting and recycling plastic and glass bottles; thusly, the system operator ELA Recycling Corporation, a private non-benefit association that is owned by individuals or companies that are a part of the Israel beverage industry. While, the leader is Asofta Recycling Corporation, a privately owned business that represents more than 100 Israeli refreshment manufacturers and exporters that manages and supervises the program. Presently, there are two major techniques that buyers might return their bottles: return to convenient stores or supermarkets through deposit return schemes. There are also several reverse vending machines, however, the collection stays for the most part manual. Despite the fact that there is no restriction on returns, grocery stores are just required to take back up to 40 to 60 plastic or glass bottled each day.

Deposit Return Scheme Ireland

Ireland’s DRS is right now being planned by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, and ought to be functional by the end of 2022. The draft plan of the deposit reverse scheme incorporates a deposit model, where the deposits depend on the size of the beverage container. Nonetheless, it does not include bottles that are made up of glass. The government of Ireland decided to set up deposit return schemes and reverse vending machines in Ireland after seeing how successful deposit return schemes and reverse vending machines were in Denmark. In 2020, 91 percent of aluminum cans, 94 percent of bottles made up of glass and 95 percent of Polyethylene Terephthalate beverage containers were returned by customers for recycling in Denmark. Approximately, 63,000 tons of plastic, glass and aluminum was recycled in Denmark in 2021. On the other hand, the recycling rate of Ireland miss the mark regarding those in Denmark. Most latest data discovered that reusing rate for glass in Ireland reduced to 77 percent by 2019. In 2019, IBAL (Irish Business Against Litter) discovered that 5 to 6 beaches were not considered to be clean enough to meet the European guidelines, with beverage containers, consists bottles made up of plastic and glass, aluminium cans and coffee or tea cups accounted for most of this litter.

The government of Ireland decided to set up RVMs at different convenient stores in Glenageary, a Dublin town, which will accept beverage bottles and cans that were purchased by end-users from different retailers in exchange for vouchers that could be used to pay for groceries in a store. For every container deposited, end-users will get a discount coupon worth 2 Euros. The reverse vending machines usual can collect and recycle approximately 16,000 plastic and glass bottles or aluminum cans every week. Sensi, a tech company that is set up in Dublin, Ireland, has created a machine that utilised Artificial Intelligence to reward end-users for recycling bottles made up of plastic or glass, aluminum cans, paper cups and various common products. This machine was designed to recognise hundreds of recycled products utilised in retail conditions. at all like different machines that recognise the containers based upon the barcode, the new machine recognises the container based on the appearance of the item. When the machine accepts the beverage container, it prints a digital coupon. Sense has already signed contracts with their United States partners and plans to introduce these machines in North America and Britain as well. The total cost of creating and setting up these machines could range from $5,986 (€5,000) to $11,970 (€10,000).

Reverse vending machines

Reverse vending machines or RVMs is a type of machine where individuals can return their empty bottles and cans to recycle. The machine normally refunds the amount back to the end client. This is the thing that makes it function like a reverse vending machine; rather than the consumer inserting money into the machine and getting out a food item (such as a vending machine), the customer puts in an empty container and get a deposit or money back. An RVM is an automated way of collecting, sorting and handling used beverage containers. The first-ever fully automated RVM was established and set up by a company called ‘TOMRA” in 1972. RVMs are extremely common in areas with DRS, where a customer gets the money back they have spent when buying a beverage drink by returning the empty beverage container for recycling. They are also referred to as a bottle recycling machine or redeem machine. When a customers inserts an empty beverage container, the RVM will scan the barcode of the container, the material that is used to create the beverage container or shape, to specify the kind of packaging to give the right DR (Deposit Return). The reverse vending machine will then symmetrically categorise the empty container into various groups. A refillable container is shifted to the storage area within the vending machine, while a container that can not be used or refilled again is crushed and stored in various dustbins.

RVMs are a crucial part of DRS, which see nearly 70 to 100 percent of all beverage containers that are returned to be recyclable. No other type of waste collection framework reaches near to these return levels. An RVM usually receives more than 30 billion used beverage containers each year to be recycled within a closed loop. Closed-looping recycling is the procedure that assures that specific items are gathered, reused and converted into the same item, when its initial use is as of now is needed. With regards to beverage cans and bottles, closed-loop recycling guarantees that the most precious materials, for example, aluminum, glass and plastic are continuously recycled into cans or bottles, instead of being disposed off into landfills or down-cycled into low quality products or materials. RVMs benefit the end clients, environment and businesses engaged in gathering beverage metal cans and bottles made up of glass and plastic for recycling. Reverse vending machines are good for the environment in terms of it helps to assure that clean, good quality materials that could be utilised to produce new beverage containers (this is also referred to as clean loop recycling). Decrease the direct and indirect impact greenhouse gases have on the environment. Separating beverage bottles and cans according to the type of material being used to produce these containers and helps to keep waste and litter out of roads, seas and landfills.

Reverse vending machines are also convenient for end clients in terms of, they are usually located in a grocery store, which makes it convenient for consumers to return empty or used beverage containers for recycling. It also makes recycling more enjoyable for end-users as it makes the entire recycling procedure much easier and clean. Reverse vending machines also allows the end-users to select between the different types of pay-out methods. In certain areas, rather than paying back the deposit to consumers in the form of cash, RVMs allows end-users to make donations to different charitable organisations. It also allows to them to transfer funds electronically through digital pay-outs or redeem the deposit in the form of discount coupons, which can be used to purchase grocery items. The last advantage of reverse vending machines is it is efficient for businesses with regards to decreasing the amount of time staff members will take to manually count and handle empty beverage containers. It helps staff members to focus on different tasks by making the entire recycling collection process easier and clearer. Lastly, reverse vending machine helps to provide more storage capacity for recyclable products, which helps to the cost of transporting containers.

Alternative Solution

A smart reverse vending machine is a creative solution for gathering empty drink containers at a particular source and increase the recycling rate by using a reward system. It encourages end-user to recycling by allowing them to throw their recycle waste, such as plastic and glass bottles or cans that are made up of aluminum into the machine. It also allows end-users to choose from different pre-set up rewarding methods. Smart reverse vending machines tend to utilise a smart camera and CCD (Charged Coupled Device) sensors. A CCD sensor is a type of sensor that can be used to measure the weight of the empty container and recognise the type of material that was used to produce the empty beverage container (PET plastic, glass or aluminum ). When a particular item is out in the collector unit of the machine, an electronic recognition software examines the items and compares them with data that is stored in the system’s database in order to determine whether the items are classified to be recyclable or not. If the data matches the data that is already stored in the system’s database, the machine accepts the items and stores them separately based on the type of material. The machine makes more space for recyclable items by crushing aluminum and plastic waste. Smart reverse vending machines nowadays is also equipped with a barcode reader. A barcode reader is an equipment that reads or scans the bar code that is over the beverage container to recognise the type of material used to manufacture the specific beverage or drink container. The barcode reader could be utilised by deposit systems and by companies that might want to obtain a particular type of material. After the item is our in the receiver unit of the machine, the barcode recognition system examines the recycle container and compares them with the barcodes that is already stored in the system’s database. If the items are classified to be recyclable, then only the machine accepts the items and stores them separately based on the type of material.

Some of the different ways end-users can redeem their rewards for recycling empty beverage containers are using magnetic card readers. Utilising magnetic cards is the ideal solution for colleagues and schools, where learners usually utilise these types of cards for various purposes. End-users can also use transportation cards, for example, bus or metro cards to which money could be transferred to pay for public transportation services. Each smart reverse vending machine includes a special opening, where users can insert their plastic cards and the setting of the machine could be programmed according to the requirements established by the user. Smart reverse vending machines are also programmed to print gift vouchers, special paper tickets that include barcodes and different kinds of rewards. It also allows end-clients to scan QR codes using their smartphones to redeem their rewards or points directly into their bank account. The last way end-users can redeem their rewards is in the form of making donations to their favourite or preferred charitable organisation in their name.



[1] I. E. Technology, “How Can a Deposit Refund Scheme Help the Environment?,” Envirotech Online, Oct. 23, 2017.

[2] R. RIDLEY, “4 hidden benefits of Container Deposit Schemes,”, Nov. 06, 2020. (accessed Oct. 13, 2021).

[3] Eunomia, “Plan for Deposit Return Scheme Launched in Catalonia,” Eunomia, Aug. 09, 2017. (accessed Oct. 13, 2021).

[4] E. GÖRGÜN et al., “Deposit Refund System for Beverage Containers as a Best Practice Example for Recycling Maximization,” Environmental Research and Technology, Jun. 2021, doi: 10.35208/ert.862611.


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