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South West Water leads ReFill revolution to combat plastic pollution

04th March 2019

South West Water is making 3,000 refillable bottles available to communities in Devon and Cornwall in a bid to combat pollution from single-use plastic bottles.

The company, with Keep Britain Tidy, is also launching a ReFill Fund to keep the supply of refillable bottles flowing for community use.

The 500ml stainless steel bottles have been donated free of charge to Keep Britain Tidy, South West Water’s BeachCare partner, for onward distribution.  A third of the bottles are being distributed free of charge to community groups to sell, with the proceeds being ploughed back into good causes in their areas. Bottles are also available at cost price to groups that have already benefitted from the scheme and want to top-up supplies. The remaining bottles will be sold directly by Keep Britain Tidy with a small profit contributing to a new ReFill Fund, administered by the charity, which will be used to purchase extra refillable bottles for community use.

As a co-founder of ReFill, South West Water is also talking to councils in the region to explore how the campaign can be expanded across the South West, following its UK launch in Bude, Cornwall in 2014.

More than 1,100 locations, such as cafes, hotels, restaurants and shops, are now registered with ReFill in Devon and Cornwall, allowing the public to top-up their water bottles for free – more than double the total last year.  People can use an app on their phone to find out where the nearest ReFill point is, or look out for special signs in shop windows.

The campaign has already saved five million plastic bottles from littering the landscape in the South West, as well as increasing the availability of high quality tap water so people can stay healthy and hydrated when out and about.  

Ed Mitchell, Director of Environment and Sustainability at Pennon Group, parent company of South West Water, said: “We’re keen to build on our pioneering role with ReFill and it’s great to see growing public interest, particularly following the BBC’s Blue Planet series, which highlighted the dreadful impact of marine pollution.  Our partnership with Keep Britain Tidy provides an innovative and sustainable way of tackling litter from discarded single-use plastic bottles, and supporting a range of good causes at the same time.”

Neil Hembrow from Keep Britain Tidy said: “We’re grateful to South West Water for the bottles and look forward to redoubling our joint efforts to keep the South West beautiful and reduce plastic in our oceans.”

Bude resident Deb Rosser, who founded ReFill with support from BeachCare, said: “Small actions can have big impacts. I would encourage everyone to buy a refillable bottle and do their bit for the environment.”

Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Waste, said: “ReFill is a win-win for everyone. It’s good for the businesses and charities that open their doors to thirsty passers-by, good for the environment and good for people’s health to hydrate with water rather than sugary drinks.”

To purchase a ReFill bottle for £7 please email beachcaresouthwest@keepbritaintidy.org

Notes to editors

Find out more at www.refill.org.uk and www.recycledevon.org/RefillDevon

The ReFill campaign has already achieved the following in Devon and Cornwall:

  • more than 1,100 ReFill sites have been registered on the ReFill app, with many more sites unregistered
  • an estimated 5 million single-use plastic bottles have been saved from our shores to date
  • up to £20,000 has been raised for good causes in Devon and Cornwall communities from the sale of at least 6,000 ReFill bottles.

Since 2010, the BeachCare project has completed 1,250 beach cleans, contributed 35,000 volunteer hours and removed 170 tonnes of rubbish, mainly plastics, from beaches across the South West: www.facebook.com/beachcare

For further information please contact:

South West Water