BeachCare, Your Shore Beach Rangers Project and Clean Cornwall in association with City to Sea are taking the battle against plastic waste to the next level with ReFILL Cornwall, a countywide free water refill campaign. And it is coming to a community near you, thanks to dozens of local Cornish Communities waving the ReFILL Flag!
Groups from across Cornwall, thanks to funding from the Your Shore Beach Rangers Project and The Big Lottery, are coming together to reduce our plastic pollution and litter levels by calling on people to make just one simple change – to choose tap water instead of buying plastic bottled water both at home and out and about. From the Looe Marine Conservation Group and Saltash Sustainability, to Transition Truro and the Mounts Bay Marine Group, all areas of Cornwall will be shouting out this message.
Adults in Cornwall will use an estimated 64 million single use plastic water bottles this year. With low local recycling rates, and a growing demand from industry to make bottles out of single use plastic, the scale of plastic entering our waste streams is rapidly increasing and too much of this waste is littering our oceans and land. Escaped plastic harms wildlife through entrapment and once ingested it finds it ways into our food chain.
Refill is an original concept created by BeachCare (Keep Britain Tidy) and launched with Bude resident, Deb Rosser, in 2014 with support from South West Water. The aim was to encourage people to buy a ReFILL flask and re fill it with tap water at various locations in Bude. It has been a success, reducing plastic usage and raising thousands of pounds from the sale of ReFILL flasks for the ‘Friends of Bude Sea Pool’.
‘Inspired by Bude ReFill, City to Sea – a Bristol-based marine plastic campaign group – scaled-up the initiative to a nationwide Refill network. They developed the Refill app which not only allows you to find your nearest refill station but also to add your favourite local café or pub and earn rewards whilst refilling.
Deb Rosser, founder of Bude ReFILL said, “We are so happy to be bringing this scheme back home to Cornwall where it all began. We already have well over 150 local businesses involved and with so many local businesses and passionate communities across Cornwall we believe, together, we can roll out this bottle busting idea Duchy wide.”
Last year, in an effort to divert 60,000** plastic bottles from Cornwall’s waste streams, Clean Cornwall gave away 1000 refillable water flasks to launch their ‘Turn On The Tap’ (TOTT) campaign. 111 businesses supported this campaign by signing up to become TOTT water refill locations. With strength in numbers TOTT has joined forces with ReFILL Cornwall. Jill Stott, Clean Cornwall’s project manager said; ““We can achieve so much more in making Cornwall litter free if we connect each and every effort being made to encourage people to reduce the amount of single use plastic that they use. ReFILL is here and we need to be a big part of it.”
ReFILL works with the support of businesses like The Driftwood Spars in St Agnes, North Cornwall who will proudly display the ReFILL window stickers in shops, cafes, pubs and hotels across Cornwall. This sticker informs passers-by that they are very welcome to come in and refill their own flasks or water bottles with free tap water.
Some of us may already be happy to ask for free water, as Lou Treseder, Landlady of the Driftwood Spars commented, “but this isn’t something that everybody is comfortable with. This is a great campaign and it’s fantastic to be a part of something that makes it easier for more people to come in and ask for something that is free without feeling they have to buy something. ”
Plastic is not biodegrable, it will remain in the environment potentially forever. US scientists recently estimated that 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been made with 70% of this total production now in our waste streams*. Globally, environmental campaigners are united in the message that we need to reduce our demand for and consumption of throw away plastics, in anyway that we can.
Neil Hembrow from Keep Britain Tidy’s BeachCare programme says “We’ve completed over 950 volunteer beach cleans, removing over 137 tonnes of plastic from beaches in the South West. We see thousands of plastic bottles washed-up every year after finding their way into our oceans. ReFILL is an effective solution to tackle the issue.”
Abby Crosby, Your Shore Beach Rangers Project Manager for the Cornwall Wildlife Trust said, “We have an alternative to bottled water, an alternative that is much cheaper and more regulated. Tap water. ReFILL Cornwall makes this alternative easier and more convenient for us to choose when we are on the go. It is such a simple way for us all to play our part in helping to reduce plastic pollution.”
A full list of ReFILL Cornwall locations can be found using the City to Sea ReFILL rewards app.
Businesses are encouraged to become a ReFILL Cornwall location. They can play a very active role in the campaign simply by displaying a sticker in their window and encouraging other businesses local to them to get involved. Cafes, bars, restaurants, hostels, anyone – if you have a tap and would like to show your support to the campaign and to those people who are making a positive choice away from single use plastic get in touch with Cornwall Wildlife Trust or check out www.refill.org.uk or search Facebook for ReFILL Cornwall.
*Source: Earth is becoming a ‘Plastic Planet’ by Jonathan Amos, BBC Science Correspondent.
**according to the Global Beverage Forecasts March 2015 report we each use an average of 60 (500ml) plastic bottles each per annum.