Free water to be available in all major English towns and cities by 2021

Scheme is part of the efforts to curb plastic waste on land and in the seas

Free water refills to be publicly available in UK by 2021

Free water refill points will be available in every major town and city in England by 2021.

Tens of thousands of shops, cafes, businesses and water fountains across England will have facilities for people to fill up bottles in an attempt to prevent the use of tens of millions of disposable plastic bottles a year.

The scheme is part of the efforts to curb plastic waste on land and in the seas.

The Independent is campaigning to cut the cup waste following a report last month that proposed introducing a 25p 'latte levy' to reduce the amount of non-recyclables going to landfill.

Members of the public will be able to use an app on their phone to find the nearest refill point or look out for a special sign in shop windows.

Natalie Fee, founder of City to Sea, the organisation behind the Refill scheme, said: "We've seen a huge appetite for our Refill campaign across England, from individuals wanting to make a difference in their community to national chains keen to offer free refills to their customers.

"Our Refill app puts the power to stop plastic pollution in people's hands - and now thanks to the water industry we'll be able to help everyone, from local communities to airports, to provide free refills on the go."

Whitbread is the first company to sign up to the national scheme and has pledged to provide free drinking water for customers and passers-by in each of its 3,000 Costa Coffee and Premier Inn locations from March.

James Pitcher, director of sustainability at Whitbread, said: "With over 3,000 Costa stores, Premier Inn hotels and restaurants the length and breadth of the country we can make it easier for people to refill for free, helping to reduce the number of plastic bottles being littered or thrown away."

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, the water fill networks stakes us "one step closer to tackling plastic waste".

He said:

“But for schemes like this to work they must be matched by bold action from the Government. There should be a refill station in every public space and public building, but crucially this must be rolled out alongside a national bottle deposit scheme."

The national programme comes after the success of a scheme in Bristol where more than 200 refill points were installed across the city centre.

Estimates suggest that if every city resident of Bristol refilled a bottle once a week instead of buying a single-use plastic bottle, the city could cut the use of throwaway bottles by 22.3 million a year.

Agencies contributed to this report

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