Pret A Manger to introduce filtered water stations in bid to cut plastic use

The high street chain will see if customers choose to refill water bottles, rather than buying a new one

Water stations will be tried out in Pret's veggie stores, followed by its Manchester branches
Water stations will be tried out in Pret's veggie stores, followed by its Manchester branches

Pret A Manger has announced a bid to cut plastic waste by installing filtered water stations in its Veggie Pret shops with more to be added in its Manchester shops by the end of the month.

The aim of Pret's water stations will be to see if customers choose to refill their bottles, rather than buying a new one, according to the company, which will also be selling reusable glass bottles at selected branches as part of the move.

The high street chain follows other food and drink sellers working to cut the use of plastic including JD Wetherspoon, which said last month that it would stop putting plastic straws in its drinks and would only use biodegradable paper straws from January 2018.

Starting this week, Pret's vegetarian branches in London's Soho, Shoreditch and Exmouth Market will be testing out the water stations and selling reusable glass bottles at £3.99 for 250ml and £4.99 for 500ml. The chain's Manchester stores will be added to the trial from 31 October.

In a blogpost published on the company's website, Pret's chief executive Clive Schlee said: "Plastic bottles present a real challenge and there are two schools of thought within Pret. The passionate environmentalists say stop selling them altogether, while the pragmatists say make it as easy as you can for customers to use fewer plastic bottles. We are looking carefully at both options. I tend towards the pragmatist end myself."

He added that the trial of reusable bottles and taps in the selected shops was just the start of Pret trying to do more when it comes to packaging.

In August, London's Borough Market said it would be installing free drinking water fountains and phasing out sales of disposable plastic bottles in an aim to become the UK's largest food shopping spot that is plastic-free.

Of plastic produced over the last 70 years, 79 per cent has been thrown away, nine per cent recycled and the rest incinerated.

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