Refill Campaign: Tackling the source of plastic waste

Refill Campaign: Tackling the source of plastic waste

Blue Planet II, a wonderful documentary led by the legendary British broadcaster David Attenborough, was the most watched television show in Britain in 2017. Not only did it provided entertainment to over 14 million viewers across the UK, but it also raised awareness of the world’s shocking treatment of its oceans. The footage of plastic waste in our oceans and its destruction of sea life has sparked a powerful wave of activism that aims to reduce our plastic waste. Around 12 million tonnes of plastic are thrown away each year into the oceans, and this could increase ten fold in the next ten years if no action is taken.

This has given new impetus to the Refill campaign. Led by the City to Sea Foundation, Refill will aim to provide free refill points in every major city and town in England by 2021. Water fountains will be found across shops, cafés and public spaces across the country in order to reduce plastic bottle usage by the tens of millions a year. Major businesses and cities are keen to join the Refill scheme. Whitbread Plc., who own the Costa Coffee and Premier Inn Hotel chains, have vowed to provide a water refill station in all their locations across England (3,000 in total) by March 2018. These refill stations will be available for customers and passers-by. The stations can be located through the Refill app or by stickers inviting passers-by to refill.

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, announced that London will pilot the Refill scheme this Summer with 20 new refill stations. Refill has already set up 1,600 stations in some major towns across England, including Bristol, Norwich and Durham. In Bristol, with 200 refill points, it is estimated that if every city resident refilled a bottle once a week, the city would cut the use of throwaway bottles by 22.3 million a year.

It is hard to overestimate the impact that the Refill campaign could have. In the UK, 1 million plastic bottles are bought every minute. In 2016 (latest figures), 580 billion bottles were sold (110 billion owned by Coca-Cola company). However, less than 50% of these bottles are recycled. As a result, millions of tonnes fill landfills and leak into our oceans. One-time usage of bottles is a terrible waste of energy too. Researchers of the Pacific Institute found that every litre of bottle takes 5.6 to 10.2 million joules of energy (2000 times more than tap water).

We have to reduce to reduce our use of plastic bottles. Their impact on wildlife and the amount of energy it consumes is too important for us to throwaway bottles after one drink. The Refill campaign is playing a vital role in solving the problem. It now needs the support of individuals and businesses.

Photo source: BBC

Author: Xavier Lewis Rodriguez / Bridging to the Future