Get a Refill: Free Water Campaign Goes National in the U.K.

The industry group Water UK is putting its official support behind the Refill campaign, which launched to much success in the city of Bristol. The effort is meant to discourage the use of bottled water.

Looking for an H2O refill? A trade group’s fast-growing campaign in the United Kingdom promises to make liquid refreshment a little easier to find.

Water UK this week announced that it was formally backing the Refill campaign, which plans to partner with a variety of retailers to make available free refill points to consumers. The goal of the campaign? To offer an alternative to the plastic waste that comes with bottled water.

The campaign, launched in the city of Bristol to much success, hopes to have a broad network of refill stations around England by 2021—and the group already has a sizable partner that’s ready to help.

Whitbread—which operates Costa Coffee, the world’s second-largest coffee retailer, along with the dominant Premier Inn hotel chain—says it will have free water stations available at more than 3,000 locations starting in March.

Technically, the group’s efforts shouldn’t be needed, as facilities are required by law in England, Scotland, and Wales to offer water for free to patrons. But a study done last year by Keep Britain Tidy and Brita UK found that many people weren’t aware of the law and felt awkward about asking for a water refill meant for their reusable containers.

As a result, Water UK’s important contribution to the effort is creating a cultural context for water refills around the country.

“This country has some of the best drinking water in the world, and we want everyone to benefit from it,” Water UK CEO Michael Roberts said of the endeavor to the BBC. “This scheme will do that by making it easier for people to refill their bottles wherever they work, rest, shop, or play.”

City to Sea, the organization that started the Refill campaign in Bristol, says it has been heartened by the response to the antipollution effort.

“We’ve seen a huge appetite for our Refill campaign across England, from individuals wanting to make a difference in their community to national chains,” City to Sea founder Natalie Fee told The Guardian.

(kieferpix/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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