Today is National Refill Day!

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 27 September 2018

On the first ever National Refill Day, John Lewis and Morrisons have become the latest high street chains to sign up to provide free drinking water for everybody.

Reusable Bottle Fill up
© Kate Jole

Reducing our use of plastic bottles and using refillable ones bottles is an excellent way to help address the millions of tonnes entering our oceans.

Emma Cunningham,
MCS Senior Pollution Campaigns Officer.

The day has been designated by a partnership between water industry body, Water UK and the Refill campaign, part of City to Sea.

A survey to highlight National Refill Day says 85% of the public are worried about the impact of plastic pollution. The One Poll, commissioned by City to Sea, also found 80% of people surveyed now use a reusable water bottle, at least sometimes, when out and about with 44% having made the switch to re-usable bottles in the last two years.

The Refill campaign says it wants to see water Refill Stations on every high street across the UK by 2025, which could save a billion bottles from entering the environment. It suggests that If just one in 10 Brits refilled just once a week, around 340 million plastic bottles would be saved a year!

Refill works by connecting people who are looking for water with thousands of local business, transport hubs and public spaces offering a fill-up service by using a free app. Participating cafes, bars, restaurants, banks, galleries, museums and other businesses simply sign up to the app and put a sticker in their window – alerting passers-by that they’re welcome to come on in and fill up their bottle, even without a purchase.

Emma Cunningham, MCS Senior Pollution Campaigns Officer, says: “Here at MCS we are fully behind the Refill movement. We use 13 billion plastic bottles a year, that’s 36 million a day. Reducing our use of plastic bottles and using refillable ones bottles is an excellent way to help address the millions of tonnes entering our oceans.”

However, there are still barriers to people carrying a reusable bottle, according to the Refill campaign. Their research showed that more people in the UK would ask to refill a reusable bottle (even if not making a purchase), if they knew where they could fill up for free, whilst 33% said they felt uncomfortable asking to have their reusable bottle filled when NOT making a purchase.

There are currently over 12,000 Refill Stations listed on the app in the UK, including train stations, airports and high street chains like Starbucks, Costa and Greggs.

Heathrow has become the first airport and first official transport hub to sign up to the scheme.

Natalie Fee, founder and CEO of City to Sea, said: “It’s been incredible to watch the campaign flourish over the past two years. We wanted to do something that everyone could get onboard with, that would drastically reduce the amount of pointless plastic we use when we’re out and about. People want to help stop plastic pollution, and Refill puts the power to do just that in peoples’ hands.”

Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of Water UK, the trade body representing all of the major water companies in the UK, 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. On National Refill Day, people can help turn this harmful tide of plastic waste by downloading the app and switching to a re-suable bottle. 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 for free wherever they work, rest, shop or play.”

The Refill poll identified that the over 40’s appear to be more keen to go re-usable. Those aged 45-54 were the most likely to carry a reusable bottle most of the time, compared to just 36% of 25-34 year olds. 57% of those aged 55+ use a reusable bottle because they are concerned about the environmental impact of plastic bottles. Only 28% of those aged 18-24 said they were concerned about the environmental impact of plastic bottles.

Actions you can take