Thoughts on London's free tap water scheme?

By: Irene Lorenzo
Date posted: 22 March 2018

Just last week the Mayor of London launched an initiative to cut down on the capital’s use of single use plastics. As we celebrate World Water Day on 22 March, take the opportunity to thank the Mayor and encourage him to take further steps to #STOPthePlasticTide.

We massively welcome this scheme and believe it will help reduce the amount of plastic bottles in our seas and on our beaches. In addition to refill schemes, we would like to see a deposit refund scheme introduced as soon as possible

Emma Cunningham,
Senior Pollution Campaigns Officer
Marine Conservation Society

The average Londoner buys three plastic water bottles every week, which means 175 plastic bottles per person, per year. Across the UK, the numbers get even more alarming: an estimated 7.7 billion plastic bottles are bought every year, contributing to the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans.

“Our actions have implications for pollution in the ocean, which in turn impacts our health and welfare. We need to move away from a throwaway society to a circular economy in which all products are designed to be repaired, reused and remade, thereby removing waste and litter”, said Emma Cunningham, Senior Pollution Campaigns Officer at the Marine Conservation Society.

But now over 65 businesses, including Costa Coffee, Leon and Tate Modern, have decided to trial the free tap initiative Refill London to cut down on plastic waste. The scheme has been rolled out in 5 areas of the capital for now - Greenwich town centre, Lewisham High Street, the Southbank and Bankside, Regent St and London Bridge.

If the scheme is successful and if people welcome the idea, it will potentially be spread across the capital over the summer.

“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”, said the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

How will you know the shop/business welcomes customers who need a refill? Just look out for the ‘refill’ stickers on their windows.

The pilot of the scheme is being run by Thames Water and City to Sea, two organisations who the Marine Conservation Society is proud to collaborate with in our fight against ocean plastics.

The Mayor of London is also considering a plastic bottle deposit return system like the one Scotland announced recently. The scheme gives money back for recycling bottles. Other countries who have adopted similar schemes have seen plastic bottle recycling increase up to 90%.

“We massively welcome this scheme and believe it will help reduce the amount of plastic bottles in our seas and on our beaches. In addition to refill schemes, we would like to see a deposit refund scheme introduced as soon as possible”, continues Emma Cunningham.

What do you think of the Refill scheme? Can you encourage the Mayor to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme? Leave your comment in the official Talk London website.

And to celebrate World Water Day, get a refillable bottle, download the free London Refill app and start saving the environment and your own money too!

Do you want to help stop the plastic tide? We are currently calling on UK governments to put a charge on single-use plastic throwaway items and demanding that big fast food chains stop giving out millions of plastic cups, stirrers, straws and cutlery but instead replace them with reusable or fully compostable alternatives.

Actions you can take

  1. See our map of reported bottle sightings
  2. Learn about Deposit Return Systems
  3. Take your own reusable bottle out and about
  4. Report your #wildbottlesighting using our form
  5. Survey showing public support
  6. Help stop the plastic tide
  7. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2017
  8. Join the Plastic Challange
  9. Help us stop the plastic tide

Did you know?…

Over time, one plastic bottle bobbing along in the ocean can break down in to hundreds of tiny plastic pieces

To date, our beach cleans have removed 6 million pieces of litter

Every day millions of microplastics enter the sea from personal care products such as scrubs and toothpastes

Stop the plastic tide

Support our appeal to turn the tide on plastics.

Find out more