Beer company to lose ‘20% of workforce’ thanks to Deposit Return Scheme

The Deposit Return Scheme was introduced on February 1st.
Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

16.47 27 Feb 2024

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Beer company to lose ‘20% of w...

Beer company to lose ‘20% of workforce’ thanks to Deposit Return Scheme

Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

16.47 27 Feb 2024

Share this article

A craft beer company has estimated it will lose 20% of its workforce to comply with the new Deposit Return Scheme.

Premier International Beers owner Dean McGuiness said the cost of adding Re-turn labels to their products is €70,000 a year – the equivalent of two staff members' wages.

The Deposit Return Scheme was launched earlier this month to encourage the recycling of plastic bottles and aluminium cans.


It introduced a deposit of 15c on containers ranging from 150ml to 500mls, while a deposit of 25c was added to containers over 500ml – which can be claimed back through reverse vending machines or over the counter.

Rocky start

On Moncrieff today, Mr McGuinness said the scheme has got off to a rocky start due to the Government’s insistence that all containers must have the Re-Turn logo.

Mr McGuinness said this is forcing his company to ask brewers to change their can design to comply with the scheme.

“We import 40 different products and are approaching brewers asking them to spend thousands of euros to change the design of their product and print up between 250,000 to 1,000,000 cans at a time for the Irish market,” he said.

“We are buying a relatively small amount of speciality beers and they look at us and ask ‘are you mad, this is absolutely crazy?’”

Big breweries

Mr McGuinness said the scheme favours big breweries.

“The design is printed onto the can so in order to change the design you need to have an entirely new print run of cans," he said.

“A minimum print run of cans used to be 250,000 – now it is typically between 500,000 and 1,000,000.

“Speciality beers would obviously be a small fraction of that so you’d have to ask someone to change something and then to sell 90 or 95% in another market.

“If you’re Guinness or Heineken and selling millions of cans – you can spend a few thousand euros to change the design as that cost is spread over millions of cans.”

Stickers solution

Mr McGuiness said the solution proposed is a sticker that can attach to the can – but this is problematic in itself.

“It means the scheme designed to help the environment, damages the environment,” he said.

“If you want to put a sticker on every can you need to tear off the plastic, put a sticker on every can, and put new plastic on.

“That means you have twice as much plastic used thanks to this requirement to put a sticker on the can which isn’t required.”

Fleeing market

The Deposit Return Scheme has already led to products leaving the Irish market, according to Mr McGuinness.

“We have been told by a brewery that makes the number four and five products in our business that it is no longer viable to make those products," he said.

“If they wanted to continue bringing them in, we would have to hand-sticker 360,000 cans a year on just one product.

“The amount of money this will cost us, and we are a very small company, is two jobs – that is basically about 20% of our workforce.”

Mr McGuiness said similar schemes rolled out in Malta and Estonia have also created problems for small brewers.

You can listen:

Main image: A Deposit Return Scheme machine ready for use at a Supervalue supermarket in Dublin, 1-1-23. Image: Jack Quann/Newstalk

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Alcohol Beer Brewery Dean McGuiness Deposit Return Scheme Guiness Heineken Moncrieff Premier International Beers Re-turn

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