With the aim of stemming the increasing flow of single-use plastic bottles, Bristol-based Community Interest Company, City to Sea, has launched a national drinking water campaign where people can refill their plastic water bottles for free. This way, fewer bottles will be thrown away – only half of which are currently recycled.
The target is to have high street retailers, coffee shops, businesses and local authorities sign up to offer free refill points to the public in every major city and town in England by 2021.
Water UK, the trade organization for water companies in the UK, said people will be able to use an app on their phone to find out the nearest refill point or look for signs in shop windows. Water firms already taking part in local schemes include Anglian Water in Norwich, Bristol Water in Bristol, Northumbrian Water in Durham and South West Water in Cornwall.
The first business to join the initiative is Whitbread. They pledge to offer free water in every one of their 3,000 Costa Coffees and Premier Inn hotels from March this year.
Whitbread Director of Sustainability James Pitcher said:
“With over 3,000 Costa stores, Premier Inn hotels and restaurants the length and breadth of the country we can make it easier for people to refill for free, helping to reduce the number of plastic bottles being littered or thrown away.”
In Bristol, the initiative has been running since September 2015. The city has more than 200 refill points across the centre. City to Sea reckons that if every city resident refilled a bottle once a week, Bristol could cut back on single-use plastic water bottles by 22.3 million a year.
Natalie Fee, founder of City to Sea, 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.”
Britain uses 38.5 million plastic bottles every day, of which 16 million end up in landfill, are burnt or enter waterways.