Shops and businesses in London have joined a scheme that offers people free tap water refills as part of plans to reduce single-use plastic bottles in the city.
More than 65 businesses, venues and shops – which include Costa Coffee, Tate Modern, and the BFI Imax cinema – have joined the Refill scheme in the five areas: Greenwich town centre, Lewisham High Street, the Southbank and Bankside, Regent Street, and London Bridge.
The Refill initiative is supported by London mayor Sadiq Khan and run by Thames Water and City to Sea, a campaign group that aims to help stop ocean pollution.
They will be recruiting more businesses to the initiative over the coming weeks and months. And if this proves a success, the mayor plans to help roll it out across the capital over the summer.
It is estimated that the average London adult buys more than three plastic water bottles every week – equating to 175 bottles every year per person.
Khan said: “A free tap water scheme is long overdue in London and I welcome all of the retailers and business who have shown their strong commitment to reducing unnecessary plastic waste by joining the London Refill scheme.
“We all need to try harder to cut the excessive use of single-use plastic bottles, cups and cutlery that can end up pointlessly overflowing our landfill sites, finding their way into our oceans and harming our environment.
“I hope that even more businesses sign up to the scheme to help Londoners make small but significant steps, like refilling our bottles, to drive down plastic waste. City Hall is part of the scheme and I encourage everyone to download the free London Refill app to see which outlets are involved.”
Participating shops and businesses have Refill stickers in their windows letting people know they are offering free tap water.
Thames Water chief executive Steve Robertson said: “Nurturing and protecting the environment is a core mission for Thames Water and we are proud of the quality of our tap water. By making it even more accessible we can together limit the use of millions of single-use plastic bottles which sadly end up in landfill or in our rivers and oceans.”
City to Sea founder Natalie Fee added: “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.”
As part of his ambition for London to send no biodegradable or recyclable waste to landfill by 2026, Khan is also considering the potential for a plastic bottle deposit return scheme that gives money back for recycling bottles.