Free water refill points by 2021

Shops, cafes and businesses will offer free water refill points in every major city and town in England by 2021 in a bid to cut disposable plastic bottle use.

Water UK claims that the scheme could cut disposable plastic bottle use by tens of millions a year, as well as increase the availability of quality drinking water.

According to the water industry leader, users will be able to use an app on their phone to find out where the nearest refill point is, as well as window signs indicating directions to the nearest refill point.

The scheme has been in place since 2015 in Bristol with the city now hosting more than 200 stations. It is estimated that if every city resident in Bristol refilled one bottle once a week, the city could cut the use of disposable bottles by 22.3 million a year.

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

Michael Roberts, Water UK chief executive, 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.”

James Pitcher, director of Sustainability for Whitbread plc, added: “At Whitbread we are committed to reducing our impact on the environment and playing our part to tackle the issue of plastic waste. We are very much looking forward to participating in this innovative scheme, 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.”