Having spent more than a decade looking to engage with and put pressure on respective Governments and Ministers to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme, VOICE was delighted to see a commitment to same in the Programme for Government, signed and agreed to by the current administration in 2020. However, rather than sit on our laurels, we decided to press on with our efforts and develop a new campaign, one designed specifically to make sure that Ireland created the best Deposit Return Scheme possible. And so, the Return for Change campaign was launched.
How do we do this? It’s straightforward enough – we engage and we communicate with as broad a sweep of Irish society as possible. It’s all well and good that VOICE and other like-minded organization’s and people know about it, as well as some official in different Departments, but when talk about a Deposit Return Scheme, we’re talking about a national initiative which literally everyone in the country will soon become aware of.
Which begs question: if everyone in the country will eventually know about it, what’s the point of the campaign? The point is that you only get to make a first impression once and we want that impression to be as positive and well-informed as possible. In our experience, there is overwhelming support for the introduction of the Deposit Return Scheme in Ireland, with most people seeing it as a common-sense approach to dealing with litter and increasing recycling.
However, even with this bank of goodwill already in place, a lack of forewarning or heads-up can elicit feelings of annoyance and ill-will if people feel that something has been foisted on them without their prior knowledge; especially a government- mandated initiative which involves money, no matter how small the sums involved. With that in mind, the Return for Change campaign has endeavored to work across society in order to raise awareness about the upcoming Scheme. We do this in a number of ways (most of which are outlined on this website): we work on the ground with communities using a rather special and unique promotional tool whilst we also engage with other stakeholders (producers, retailers, waste management companies, Department officials and political parties) as the environmental representative on the departmental working group on deposit return scheme. We also work with other groups across Europe (Zero Waste Europe, Reloop and Have You Got the Bottle Scotland amongst others) to learn from their experiences of deposit return schemes and the circular economy.
We are a small team but nevertheless, we have been successful in our aims so far. We want to get some important points across:
1. What a Deposit Return Scheme is;
2. Why is Ireland introducing one;
3. How it’s going to work, and
4. The benefits it will bring
Our roadshow has enabled us to speak with many people across Ireland as have our engagements with local and national media, both print and radio. We have also sat down (via Zoom) with all bar one of our political parties to inform TD’s, Senators and Councilor’s about the deposit return scheme and how it will impact their constituents. What aids us greatly is the fact that many of us can remember returning glass bottles to shops and getting some small change in return. Many more will have seen similar schemes in countries across Europe and the USA. It works because it is simple and because it makes sense. The plastic bottles and aluminum cans that our deposit return scheme will collect for recycling are valuable materials and we are aiming for collection rates of 90% by the end of the decade. It’s ambitious but the need is great. We can do it.
So, in a nutshell, Ireland’s deposit return scheme will involve placing a deposit on all PET plastic and aluminum beverage containers at the point of sale. We buy the bottle or can and pay the deposit simultaneously. When we return the empty bottle or can to any shop that sells them, we get our deposit back. Not only that, we’re ensuring that the containers themselves will collected for recycling and won’t end up as litter somewhere. It’s a no-brainer and all-gainer.
If you would like to become a Partner of the Return for Change campaign, want to learn more or are interested in our roadshow visiting your community, please contact our Project Manager, Colin O’Byrne firstname.lastname@example.org