Growing awareness about the disastrous environmental impacts of plastics has fuelled the rising popularity of reusable and refillable drinks containers, like coffee cups and water bottles, in part thanks to City to Sea’s award-winning Refill campaign and app, which connects people to places they can eat, drink and shop without the pointless packaging.
Thanks to the work of Plastic Free Chesterfield, who have been pioneering the movement in Chesterfield there are now more than 20 Refill Stations listed locally on the Refill app. This includes everything from free drinking water refills, to discounts on hot drinks in a reusable cups and zero-waste shops, along with greengrocers, bakeries and other plastic free shopping options.
Packaging from take-away food and drinks is a major threat in the fight against plastic pollution and items like coffee cups and take-away containers are consistently in the top 10 items found on beaches around the world.
Brits are calling for a Refill Revolution
An exclusive 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.
After a year of lockdowns and altered habits, progress on plastic pollution has stalled – with the new polling revealing that 73% of UK adults believe that plastic pollution is just as bad, or worse than it was before the pandemic began.
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.
Although it is up to governments to take the lead on accelerating the tide of change, businesses too must play their part. In the last 12 months, one in three UK adults have had a reusable container refused when buying a product that can be refilled.
Despite initial hesitancy about accepting reusables, like coffee cups, at the height of the pandemic, leading experts now say they are safe to use in hospitality settings providing basic hygiene guidance is followed. City to Sea has produced comprehensive 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.
Greg Hewitt, Plastic Free Chesterfield Community Lead, explains why they got involved with the Refill campaign locally and are behind World Refill Day.
“Here in Chesterfield, we might be far away from the sea but that doesn’t mean we should do nothing. Once plastic gets into our waterways, it’s on the way to the sea and it’ll also break down into microplastics in which marine life ingest, potentially leading to thousands of deaths. We need to turn off the tap when it comes to single-use plastic and refill and reuse is the solution.”
The Cheese Factor is one such business that’s leading the fight against single use plastic by allowing customers to bring their own cups, bottles and containers into the shop to refill. Business owner Simon Davidson said: “At The Cheese Factor we know that more and more of our customers are demanding for refillable and reusable options. We have been working hard to not only meet that demand but to also lead customers that haven’t thought about it yet to make the right decision for them and the planet. People all across Chesterfield are waking up to the tide of single-use plastics and we as a business are doing what we can to tackle that and join campaigns such as this to raise awareness of not just the problem, but also the solutions.”
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 Steph’s Sustainable Stuff, Monkey Park and The Cheese Factor in Chesterfield 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.”
Friends of the Earth plastics campaigner, Camilla Zerr, commented on the Exclusive World Refill Day polling saying: “The results are in and couldn’t be clearer: public support for a world where plastic pollution isn’t choking our oceans, landscapes and wildlife is resounding. “But so far, government promises on plastic have been all bluff and bluster, with little guarantee of a real reduction in plastic pollution. When solutions like reuse and refill exist but aren’t coming quick enough, we must demand more of our political leaders.
“Although our attention has been diverted during the course of the pandemic, plastic pollution hasn’t gone away – but there’s still time to double down and make it a priority as we build back better. Fortunately, there’s an opportunity to craft a new, ambitious vision for plastic pollution enshrined in law, through the Environment Bill. The government should utilise this to really listen to what the public wants, by putting reuse and refill at its very heart.”
City to Sea and the team at Plastic Free Chesterfield are now calling on residents of Chesterfield 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.
Get involved this World Refill Day on June 16th! Just download the free Refill app and use it to find nearby places to refill water, coffee, lunch, groceries, toiletries and more. Remember to carry your reusables and take them in to refill.