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Buying single-use plastic water bottles could soon be seen to be as bad as littering, spitting in public, queue-jumping, and playing loud music on public transport, according to a new survey to mark National Refill Day on Wednesday 19th June.

As part of the award-winning Refill campaign, the public are now being urged to stop buying single-use plastic water bottles and switch to refillable ones to help fight the tide of plastic waste.

Three out of four British people in the OnePoll survey said society should move towards single-use plastic being socially unacceptable, with the research also revealing that an overwhelming majority of the public (86%) are now worried about the impact of plastic pollution in the environment.

Despite the public wanting to take action on plastic pollution, sales of bottled water continue to grow. Sales in the UK hit a record £558.4m in the year to last November, an increase of 7%, according to the latest figures from the market analyst Kantar. According to the Environmental Audit Committee consumption of bottled water has doubled over the last 15 years, with over 7 billion plastic water bottles used each year in the UK. 

The UK public can support National Refill Day by switching from single-use to a reusable bottles and sharing their commitment on social media, by telling the world they’ve #GotTheBottle to prevent plastic pollution.

National Refill Day on June 19th is the centrepiece of the Refill campaign, with a nationwide day of activity all over the country. At Canary Wharf, London, commuters get the chance to refill at the interactive ‘Hydration Station’. Every time a member of the public refills at the station they can digitally ‘free the fish’ on a nearby billboard, raising awareness of the impact of plastic pollution on our oceans.

In addition, some of the UK’s busiest Network Rail stations (Birmingham, London Paddington and London Bridge and Charing Cross) have teams on the ground directing people to the new Network Rail water fountains. There is also local activity up and down the country organised by water companies and more than 200 volunteer-led local Refill Schemes.

Natalie Fee, founder of City to Sea, the organisation behind the Refill campaign, said: “It’s been incredible to watch the Refill campaign flourish over the past few years. National Refill Day is something that everyone can get onboard with and has the potential to drastically reduce the amount of unnecessary single-use plastic we use when we’re out and about. People want to help prevent plastic pollution, and Refill puts the power to do that in their hands.”

Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of Water UK, said: “The water industry is committed to playing its part in reducing the plastic waste which clogs up our drains and blights our rivers and beaches. National Refill Day is an essential part of this commitment and is a great opportunity for people to get involved in the battle against single use plastic.

“This country enjoys some of the best drinking water in the world, and we’ve made it easier than ever for people to make the pledge on National Refill Day to switch to a reusable bottle and fill up for free on the go.”

National Refill Day was launched last year by City to Sea, as part of the Refill campaign, with the support of Water UK, the organisation representing the main water companies in the UK. The goal of Refill is to normalise refilling and make it as easy as possible for people to find free, high-quality, drinking water on the go. They want to create a national network of high street retailers, coffee shops, transport hubs and businesses offering to let the public to top-up their water bottles for free in every major city and town in England by 2021. There are also new water fountains being put into public spaces. People can download the free app to find out where the nearest refill point is or look out for special signs in shop windows.

The number of Refill points listed on the app in the UK has just passed 20,000, including train stations, airports and high street chains like Starbucks, Costa and Wetherspoons. As part of the activity for National Refill Day it’s been revealed that Greggs, Sweaty Betty and Parkdean Resorts have recently pledged their support and are now listed on the free Refill app.

Earlier this year water companies outlined plans to prevent the equivalent of 4 billion plastic bottles ending up as waste by 2030 as part of their Public Interest Commitment.

Refill is an award-winning campaign to prevent plastic pollution at source by making it easier to reuse and refill your water bottle on the go than to buy a single-use plastic bottle. The campaign works by connecting people who are looking for water, with thousands of local business, transport hubs and public spaces where they can refill for free via a location-based app.  The app has been downloaded more than 140,000 times and there are now over 20,000 Refill Stations in the UK including Pret, Starbucks, Costa, Greggs, Wetherspoons, Premier Inn, John Lewis, Morrisons, Network Rail and Heathrow.

It is estimated that the Refill campaign will have saved over 100 million single-use bottles from entering our waste stream by the end of 2019. 

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Refill is a City to Sea and Water UK campaign. City to Sea are an award-winning not for profit, campaigning to prevent plastic pollution. The organisation was founded by environmental campaigner, Natalie Fee in 2015.

Natalie Fee is an environmental campaigner revolutionising the way we think about plastic pollution. She was is one of Nesta’s 50 New Radicals Natalie Fee will be releasing an accessible guide to green living in October 2019 titled How to Save the World for Free.

About National Refill Day

National Refill Day launched for the first time in 2018 to encourage people to switch from single-use plastic water bottles to a reusable bottle and to refill on the go using the free Refill app. Last year the campaign reached over 33 million with support from DEFRA, The NHS, The Mayor of London and hundreds of brands and partners. 

Regional events

Water companies and Refill groups are hosting events and activations across the country as part of National Refill Day. Activities include:

  • The Refill team is  at College Green in Bristol where Bristol Water and Bristol Council islaunching a new fountain
  • Attendees at the Lincolnshire Show have the opportunity to fill up their reusable bottles at Anglian Water’s Refill bar. The company is also holding a plastic bottle amnesty, with the support of the show and the council, to find out how many bottles are used at the event
  • In Newcastle, Northumbrian Water staff are taking to the city centre with their mobile community vehicle encouraging shoppers to download the app and find their nearest Refill station
  • In Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford are opening a new water fountain at Cardiff Airport
  • Severn Trent Water is hosting an ‘Action Day’ in Birmingham with volunteers recruiting members of the public and encouraging them to ditch single-use plastic bottles.
  • In Scotland Refill Borders are launching their campaign at the Borders Book Festival where Will McCallum will also be launching his new book “How to Give Up Plastic”. The Refill Borders team will be there from the 13th to the 16th June to promote the campaign.

Water UK

Water UK is the trade body representing all of the major water and wastewater companies in the UK. Our members provide drinking water to nearly 64 million people every day. The water industry has set out ambitious plans to prevent the equivalent of 4 billion plastic bottles ending up as waste as well as improving 8,000 km of rivers and waterways over the next few years.

As part of the Refill campaign, every water company in England aims to ensure people can refill their water bottles in every major town and city across the UK by 2021. The partnership could save a billion bottles by 2025 with Refill Stations on every high street across the UK.

Twitter: @WaterUK

Chilly’s Bottles

City to Sea have partnered with Chilly’s Bottles, a leading reusable bottle brand who have created the beautiful, co-branded Refill x Chilly’s Bottles – donating £10 from every bottle sold to help fund City to Sea’s Refill campaign.

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 incredible network of ever-growing Refill stations: To raise awareness of reusable products… and the water that goes in them!”

Buy the bottle here


Roger Whiteside, Chief Executive at Greggs said: “We love that our customers care about the environment, and so do we. That’s why we’re committed to doing all we can to tackle the issue of plastic waste and its impact on the world around us. Following a successful trial, we are proud to be introducing a number of initiatives to help reduce single use plastic at Greggs. We’re also proud supporters of the Refill campaign, encouraging our customers to change their habits and top up their water bottles with us for free. We recognise that the global plastic issue is a shared responsibility and as a responsible business with almost 2,000 shops, we believe that small changes like these could make a big difference in helping to tackle problem plastics.” 

Campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who featured the Refill campaign on the first episode of the new BBC series ‘War on Plastic,’ said;  “We know we have a huge issue with single-use plastic and plastic bottled water is one of the worst offenders – and the easiest to sort!  The Refill campaign provides a simple and practical solution by connecting people with free drinking water on the go. National Refill Day invites all of us to show we’ve got the bottle to prevent plastic pollution by switching from single-use plastic to a reusable bottle. Let’s prove that we have”.

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