Update 30 January 2018: Water refill points are now going to be rolled out across the whole of England by 2021. The initiative is being funded by water providers across the country, and spearheaded by Water UK. Refill points and water fountains will be found via an app and also window signs pointing people in the right direction. Costa Coffee and Premier Inn are two of the first businesses to offer the service. For more information, head to the BBC.
A series of water fountains will be installed across London in 2018 as part of a Government scheme to reduce the amount of plastic waste produced by the capital.
The fountains will be part of a project that is being piloted this year and also includes a refill campaign encouraging businesses to make tap water freely available for the public.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has headed up the environmental campaign #OneLess, and has set aside £750,000 to cut plastic waste in the capital over the next three years.
20 fountains to be installed across London
Khan is working with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which owns London Zoo, on the campaign, and has tasked the organisation with providing the 20 fountains and finding sites for them. He is focusing on “busy commuter routes, business and shopping districts”, according to the Mayor’s Office.
The Mayor’s Office was unable to confirm at the time of publishing who has designed the fountains.
An app for businesses which offer free water
As part of the project, an app will be developed that will feature London businesses, such as food outlets, that have signed up to providing free tap water. They will also wear stickers in their shop windows to signpost this to the public.
The campaign is part of Khan’s greater aim to eliminate the plastic waste that London sends to landfill, which could be recycled or biodegraded instead, by 2026, according to the Mayor’s Office.
“Celebrate the quality of [London’s] tap water”
Shirley Rodrigues, deputy mayor for environment and energy, says: “We need to radically reduce our use of plastics in order to protect and preserve our environment.
“In London, the mayor is supporting a number of ambitious schemes to help the public cut their use of plastic and access free water… to dramatically reduce the purchase of single-use plastic bottles.”
Steve Robertson, CEO at Thames Water, which is a partner on the project, adds that the campaign aims to “celebrate the quality of [London’s] tap water” and make it “more accessible” to people when they are on the move.
“We can drive down the millions of plastic bottles that are used once and then end up as landfill or in our waterways, helping to create a better future for our region and planet,” he says.
Global push to reduce plastic waste
The scheme comes alongside a global push to reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in oceans rather than being recycled or biodegraded. The UK Government has committed to eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.
Recycling charity The Ellen MacArthur Foundation also announced the winners of its £1.4 million New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize this week, which looks to bring new design concepts and materials to market that could help reduce plastic waste.
The Mayor of London’s office and ZSL are currently seeking water fountain sites, and businesses to take part in the refill scheme.