Water refill scheme aims to cut plastic bottle use by tens of millions

A new scheme by the water industry will make it easier for people to refill water bottles when out and about.

In a drive to help fight plastic waste, water companies are joining forces with the “Refill” campaign to create a national network of free water stations.

It is estimated that the scheme, which will see new refill stations offered by high street retailers, coffee shops, businesses and local authorities, will cut plastic bottle use by tens of millions each year and will substantially increase the availability of high quality drinking water.

As well as being able to get drinking water from shops, cafes and businesses, some water companies are also looking at installing new public drinking fountains and restoring some historical ones which have fallen into disuse. An app will be available for people to use on their phone to find out where the nearest refill point is.

The first business to join the national drinking water scheme is Whitbread plc, which has pledged to offer free drinking water for customers and passers-by in each of its 3000 Costa Coffee and Premier Inn locations from March 2018.

Launching the new scheme, Water UK Chief Executive Michael Roberts said: “As an industry with a strong focus on the environment we are passionate about tackling the problems caused by plastic bottles, which clog up rivers and drains, and pollute our seas. By refilling water bottles, we can all help turn this harmful tide of plastic waste.

“This country has some of the best drinking water in the world and we want everyone to benefit from it. This scheme will do that by making it easier for people to refill their bottles wherever they work, rest, shop or play.”

The water industry was inspired to create the new initiative by the successful schemes run by the Refill campaign, which now has over 1600 refill stations across the UK.

The current Refill scheme, now happening in 13 towns and cities in England, encourages participating cafes, bars, restaurants, banks, galleries, museums and other businesses to sign up to a free app and put a sticker in their window alerting passers-by to the fact that they can fill up their bottle for free.

Natalie Fee, founder of City to Sea, the organisation which is the driving force behind the Refill scheme, said:
 
“We’ve seen a huge appetite for our Refill campaign across England, from individuals wanting to make a difference in their community to national chains keen to offer free refills to their customers. Our Refill app puts the power to stop plastic pollution in people’s hands – and now thanks to the water industry we'll be able to help everyone, from local communities to airports, to provide free refills on the go.”

The new partnership between the water industry and Refill will see all water companies in England support the massive expansion of the scheme over the next two years.

If you would like to be a part of the scheme and add your business as a Refill Station click here.

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