The first ever National Refill Day comes as it’s revealed that an overwhelming majority of the British public are concerned about plastic pollution.
The survey, by One Poll and commissioned by City to Sea, shows that 85% of the public are worried about the impact of plastic pollution in the environment, and indicates that more people than ever are switching to reusable bottle instead of buying bottles of water in shops. 80% of people surveyed this month now use a reusable water bottle, at least sometimes, when outside the home.
There are some interesting regional variations too with 96% of people surveyed in Scotland saying they are concerned about plastic pollution vs just 81% in the North West and 82% in the West Midlands. Consumers in the East midlands are least concerned with reducing the amount of plastic they use (66%) vs those in Scotland where 90% of people surveyed were trying to reduce amount of plastic they use.
In the UK our reliance of single use, disposable plastic is out of control. In the UK 7.7 billion plastic water bottles are used each year, with the average person in the UK using 150 plastic water bottles every year – that’s more than 3 a week.
Refill, City to Sea’s award-winning campaign to get people ditching single-use water bottles in favour of reusable bottle, is the UK’s leading ‘app for tap’ – connecting people looking for water with businesses, water fountains and transport hubs where they can refill for free on the go. 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. City to Sea and Water UK, the trade body for companies supplying our tap water, joined forces in January this year to grow the campaign from a local grassroots scheme to a national movement. Water UK’s funding has created an ambitious drive to help fight plastic waste.
There are now over 12,000 Refill Stations in the UK on the app including train stations, Scottish Canals key visitor attractions, including The Kelpies and The Falkirk Wheel and high street chains like Starbucks, Costa and Greggs. John Lewis recently become the first department store to join the Refill Revolution and Morrisons are the first supermarket to sign up to the scheme in a bid to cut plastic pollution and meet demand from their customers.
44% of people across the UK who are using a reusable bottle have made the switch in the last 2 years and 18% have switched in the last year, which could be a ‘Blue Planet’ effect. Interestingly, it’s the older generations leading the trend – those aged 45-54 were the most likely to carry a reusable bottle most of the time vs just 36% of 25-34 year olds. 57% of those aged 55+ use a reusable bottle because they concerned about the environmental impact of plastic bottles. Only 28% of those aged 18-24 are concerned about the environmental impact of plastic bottles.
However, there are still barriers to people carrying a reusable bottle – the 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. 33% of people still feel very or somewhat uncomfortable asking to have their reusable bottle filled when NOT making a purchase and 45% of people would be more like to carry a reusable bottle if they knew they were welcome to refill in cafes, bars and restaurants compared to 41% in Scotland.
Refill Scottish Canals will be urging people to get involved with National Refill Day by downloading the free Refill app to their phones, filling up their reusable water bottles on the go, and sharing pictures online.
Natalie Fee, Director 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 reusable 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.”
Scottish Canals’ Refill Ambassador and Environment Manager, Dr Olivia Lassiere said: “We are extremely pleased to be the first public corporation in Scotland to sign up to the Refill Campaign. Protecting the environment, reducing non-renewable resource use and waste is central to our business. Our many customers on the Scottish canal network will now be able to fill their re-usable bottles for free at The Falkirk Wheel, The Horsebox at The Kelpies near Grangemouth, the Caledonian Canal Centre in Fort Augustus, BHive Activity Hub on the Forth & Clyde Canal at Bowling Harbour and The Steamer Terminal café on the Crinan Canal, Argyll & Bute. We look forward to working with businesses along our canals to put more Refill locations on the map.”
Eoghan Griffin, Partner and Corporate Responsibility Manager for John Lewis said: “We’re delighted to support the Refill Initiative and hope our customers and the public make use of the brilliant new app to minimise their use of single use plastics.”
Chilly’s bottles are Refill’s official bottle partner – donating £10 of every bottle sold to continue their vital campaigning work.
James Butterfield CEO of Chilly’s says: “Here at Chilly’s, we believe strongly in the switch from single-use plastic to reusable products. But for this switch to be sustained and accessible for all, the ability to access water easily and quickly is vital. National Refill Day is an incredible opportunity to celebrate this priceless network of ever-growing Refill stations: To raise awareness of reusable products… and the water that goes in them!“