As businesses in Wales welcome businesses back indoors for the first time in months, one environmental organisation is urging them to commit to offering free tap water refills, so customers don’t have to rely on plastic bottled water. Plastic bottles are a major cause of plastic pollution in Wales, and around the world.
As a result of the pandemic, many cafes and retailers in Wales temporarily stopped accepting reusables and increased the use of single-use plastic, despite health experts stating that reusables are perfectly safe to use, and only 5% of customers feeling that single-use items are safer than reusables.
Now, after seeing a surge in new sign-ups, City to Sea is encouraging more Welsh businesses to register with Refill – a multi-award-winning app which connects people to places to eat, drink and shop with less plastic.
Welsh Businesses Back Refill and Reuse
The Refill app, which in Wales is part-funded by the Welsh Government, already connects conscious consumers to thousands of businesses currently providing free tap water refills in Wales – including museums, bars, galleries, and supermarkets; as well as smaller, family businesses, local cafes and restaurants.
New to the app this year is Cobbles Kitchen in Ogmore. Founder Chloe Francis Oakley explained that joining the app is part of a plan to bring sustainability to the forefront of the business in 2021.
“Being based so close to the sea, we are super conscious of plastic waste, and the devastating effect it can have on the environment. We have always allowed our customers to refill their water bottles with us, but when we heard about the Refill app we were really keen to join the scheme, get a window sticker, and make it ‘official’ ready for our full reopening. We hope it will remove any barriers for people who might feel uncomfortable about asking for a tap water refill.”
Also recently signed up to the app are the The Waterloo Tea chain of cafes in South Wales, and Kemi’s Café in Pontcanna. Both businesses – alongside many others around Wales – can be seen adding new Refill window stickers to their shop fronts in a new film aimed at driving business sign ups.
Ahead of World Refill Day on the 16th June, City to Sea is now calling for other forward-thinking businesses in the food-to-go or retail sector to join the app, and to share their involvement on social media using #ReturnToRefill.
Jo Morley, Head of Campaigns at City to Sea said,
“The pandemic unfortunately led to a huge increase in single-use plastic, but as we start to go back to normality, we need to ensure we don’t see a repeat of the scenes of last summer where our beaches, parks and beauty spots were covered in pointless packaging. Refill provides a simple way for businesses and consumers to take action to turn the tide on plastic pollution – as we prepare for the first ever World Refill Day next month (16th June), it’s time to get reusables back on the menu!”
Keep Wales Tidy Chief Executive Lesley Jones said,
“We all have a part to play in eradicating litter and waste which can cause so much damage to our communities and to our natural environment. That’s why we launched Caru Cymru, an inclusive movement which aims to inspire the people of Wales to take action and do the right thing for the environment. This includes carrying a reusable bottle and filling up on the go. We look forward to working with Refill Wales to encourage more businesses and individuals to get involved.”
Any business can sign up as a Refill Station and add their own details by registering for free on the app at https://refill.org.uk/get-the-refill-app/.
Better for The Planet, Better for Business
5.5 billion plastic bottles escape household recycling collection every year. They are littered, landfilled or incinerated (creating toxic fumes in the process).
Offering refills is an easy way to help reduce this figure, and over 120 health experts from eighteen countries have signed a statement assuring retailers and consumers that reusables are safe during COVID-19.
The health experts emphasise that disposable products are not inherently safer than reusables, and that reusable systems can be utilised safely during the pandemic by employing basic hygiene.
But offering refills also has a positive impact on business. According to research:
- 66% of people said they would be likely to make a purchase from a business whilst refilling.
- 65% would be likely to return to make a future purchase.
- 64% would choose to make a purchase from a participating business over a competitor.
- 7 out of 10 people would view a business more favourably if it provided refills.
How to Offer a No-Contact Refill
Reusables can be used safely and accepting them doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact it can be super simple. Here’s how to offer a no-contact refill:
- Customers place their clean reusable bottle (lid off) onto a designated spot and steps back two metres.
- The server refills the bottle from a water jug without touching it. The customer replaces the lid and takes away the bottle.
- Using a clean napkin, the server takes the customer’s bottle and fills it from the tap. The server replaces the bottle on the counter and disposes of the napkin.
- Customers hydrate with their favourite reusable bottle, reducing the prevalence of single-use plastic – diolch!