Growing awareness about the environmental impacts of plastics has fuelled the rising popularity of reusable and refillable drinks containers, such as coffee cups and water bottles. To help consumers to reduce their use of plastics, the City to Sea’s Refill campaign and app connects people to places they can eat, drink and shop without the extra packaging.
Additional campaigning by Refill Bedford means that there are now over 30 local Refill Stations listed on the Refill app, including free drinking water refills, discounts on hot drinks in reusable cups, and zero-waste shops. There are also greengrocers, bakeries and other plastic free shopping options.
Cory Walker, who coordinates Refill in Bedford, said:
“Here in Bedford, we’re rightly proud of the area’s stunning river, picturesque town centre and successful events. We need to turn off the tap when it comes to single-use plastic and refill and reuse is the solution.”
“World Refill Day will enable us to raise awareness of the problems of single use plastic and what we can do to play a part in resolving the issues.”
Three out of four people would like to see more refill options
A poll commissioned by City to Sea and Friends of the Earth for World Refill Day found that 81% of Brits want the UK government to prioritise making refillable products more widely available, as a main priority for reducing plastic pollution.
It also found that three out of four people (74%) would like to see more refill options, for things like dried foods, laundry detergents, and take-away coffees, so they can limit the amount of single-use plastic in their lives.
While over half of all people (55%) think supermarkets and big-name brands are not doing enough to address plastic pollution.
The poll also found that 73% of UK adults believe that plastic pollution is just as bad, or worse than it was before the pandemic began.
Jo Morley, City to Sea’s head of campaigns and project lead for Refill, said:
“At City to Sea, we’re on a mission to make living with less plastic easier and we want to see a world where everyone can choose to reuse wherever they shop, eat and drink. This World Refill Day we have businesses like The Store in Bedford stepping up and helping their customers avoid single-use plastic and we’d like to see government & big brands do the same.
“These latest figures support what organisations like City to Sea and Friends of the Earth have been long saying; we need nothing short of a refill revolution. This is about putting action behind the words that have long promised to implement the waste hierarchy that clearly puts recycling as a last resort after all efforts to reduce, reuse and refill have been exhausted.”
Despite initial hesitancy about accepting reusables, like coffee cups, at the height of the pandemic, experts now say they are safe to use in hospitality settings providing basic hygiene guidance is followed. City to Sea has produced guidance for businesses on how to accept reusable cups, bottles, and take-away containers in a COVID safe way. Together with Friends of the Earth, they are calling on businesses to reinstate policies where customers can bring reusables instead of accepting single-use containers.
City to Sea and the team at Refill Bedford are now calling on residents to do their bit to tackle plastic pollution by finding out what they can refill and reuse locally, supporting local businesses at the same time.