The water industry has announced that people in England will be able to refill water bottles for free in thousands of places by 2021, in a hope of cutting plastic bottle use and increasing the quality of drinking water.
Water companies will work alongside the Refill campaign to produce a national network of high street retailers, coffee shops, businesses and local authorities to provide refill stations in every major city and town in throughout England.
The first business to join the new scheme is Whitbread plc, which has agreed to offer free drinking water for customers and passers-by in its 3000 Costa Coffee and Premier Inn locations from March 2018.
To discover the refill points, people will be able to download an app to find out their nearest point.
There is currently a refill scheme in operation in 13 towns and cities in England, which encourages the participating cafes, bars and restaurants, banks and other businesses to sign up to a free app and put a sticker in their window telling passer-by about its free refill system.
Launching the scheme, Water UK chief executive Michael Roberts said: “As an industry with a strong focus on the environment we are passionate about tackling the problems caused by plastic bottles, which clog up rivers and drains, and pollute our seas. By refilling water bottles, we can all help turn this harmful tide of plastic waste. This country has some of the best drinking water in the world and we want everyone to benefit from it. This scheme will do that by making it easier for people to refill their bottles wherever they work, rest, shop or play.”