National drinking water scheme to cut plastic waste comes to Essex

Heidi Mottram

26.06.2018

Essex is joining the Refill revolution, as people will be able to fill up their water bottles for free at cafes, bars, restaurants and other businesses across the county, reducing our reliance on single-use plastic bottles.

Refill is a national initiative led by plastic pollution campaign group City to Sea, and is being delivered by Essex & Suffolk Water in partnership with the Essex Waste Partnership.

Businesses will be encouraged to get involved by signing up to the free Refill app, and putting a sticker in their window to alert passers-by that they are welcome to fill up their bottles for free.

The Refill app will also let people know where their nearest Refill station is while they are on the move.

The #RefillEssex campaign is being officially launched in Brentwood on Saturday 30 June at the ‘One Great Day′ event at the Baytree Centre. A team of volunteers in Brentwood has already been working to sign up local businesses for Refill, and they will be joined on the day by teams from Essex Waste Partnership and Essex & Suffolk Water - who will be there with their community engagement and customer interaction vehicle, Flo.

The launch event will offer lots of information on how everyone can get involved in Refill, and there will also be prizes and giveaways on the day.

Refill is part of an ambitious drive to help fight plastic waste, which is seeing water companies join forces with the Refill campaign to create a national network of high street retailers, coffee shops, businesses and local authorities offering new refill stations for the public to top-up their water bottles for free in every major city and town in England by 2021.

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.

Heidi Mottram, Chief Executive of Essex & Suffolk Water said: We want everyone across Essex to really get behind the Refill campaign, so we can make it as easy as possible for people to stay hydrated with great tasting tap water on the move, and reject those single-use plastic bottles that can have such a devastating impact on our environment.

As an ethical company we are committed to leading the charge on this initiative, and we are really proud to be working alongside Essex Waste Partnership to deliver the scheme. We are also really pleased to launching Refill Essex in Brentwood, and it′s great to see that we have some passionate volunteers in the town who are already working hard to spread the word and get local businesses signed up as Refill stations."

Cllr Simon Walsh, Chairman of Essex Waste Partnership said: "We′re very excited to be the first waste partnership to support the Refill Essex campaign, as it is a fantastic opportunity to work with local businesses to provide free and easily accessible water to everyone in Essex.

Refill Essex will play an important role in promoting a more sustainable Essex, through the use of reusable water bottles at refill stations. Reusable items such as water bottles and coffee cups can dramatically reduce the number of single-use items being thrown away across Essex, as well as litter."

Natalie Fee, founder of City to Sea, the organisation which is the driving force behind the Refill scheme, said: "Refill puts the power to stop plastic pollution in people′s hands - it′s a fantastically easy way to reduce your plastic consumption and save money at the same time. Businesses can add themselves to the app too and help create the wave of change needed to keep plastic bottles out of our oceans!"

Sarah Irving, North West and Anglian Regional Coordinator for Refill said: "We′re so excited that Essex is joining the Refill movement and making a real difference by reducing reliance on single-use plastics. Every time we refill a re-usable bottle we save our own money and the planet′s resources, and all those individual refills add up to a huge impact. It′s great to see so many local businesses supporting Refill Essex by signing up to provide free refills."

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 Refill app can be downloaded on smart phones and tablets, while more information about the campaign is available at www.refill.org.uk. Businesses in Essex that would like more information about the scheme can contact refill@nwl.co.uk.

Refill facts and figures -

• There are over 10,000 Refill Stations across the UK registered on the free Refill app. It′s estimated that the Refill scheme will cut plastic bottle use by tens of millions each year.

• The average adult buys more than 3 plastic water bottles every week* - a startling 175 bottles every year per person. In total, some 7.7 billion plastic bottles are bought across the UK each year, resulting in substantial amounts of single-use plastic waste. (#OneLess Initiative / Marine Conservation Society)

• 64% of consumers would be more likely to return for future purchases if they could refill their water bottle and 73% (seven out of ten) would view a business more favourably if it gave free tap water on request (YouGov survey of more than 2,000 people, commissioned by Brita Professional and Keep Britain Tidy, April 2018)

• The average UK household uses 480 plastic bottles a year, but only recycles 270 of them - meaning nearly half (44%) are NOT put in the recycling. This means that nationally, of the over 35 million plastic bottles being used every day in the UK, nearly 16 million plastic bottles aren′t being put out for recycling. If just one in ten Brits refilled once a week, we′d have 340 million less plastic bottles a year in circulation! (Recycle Now, 2016)

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