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‘Refill’ campaign aims to stop wave of plastic pollution at Welsh beauty spots

Photo credit: Matthew Horwood

Over the last few weeks, warm weather has seen the public head out in droves to enjoy the sunshine with friends and family. But this has also created a huge increase in littering across Wales – blighting streets, parks and beaches alike.

Discarded plastic bottles, cups and other single-use items have become a common sight in popular Welsh beauty spots and public spaces like Cardiff Bay’s Oval Basin, Swansea’s Langland Bay and Llandudno Beach.

Today, Welsh residents and tourists are being encouraged to ‘choose to reuse’ this Autumn, by opting for a reusable water bottle and filling up on the go, rather than buying single-use plastic bottles.

It’s all part of plastic pollution campaigning organisation City to Sea’s Refill campaign. 

Coordinated by City to Sea and funded by Welsh Government, Refill works by connecting people looking for drinking water with thousands of Refill Stations across the UK via a free location-based app. Participating cafes, bars, restaurants, banks, galleries, museums and other businesses simply sign up to the app and put a sticker in their window – alerting passers-by that they’re welcome to come on in and fill up their bottle. The app has been downloaded over 300,000 times and there are now almost 30,000 Refill Stations across the UK.

Here in Wales, consumers can refill at over 1600 different venues, including a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants, local libraries and community centres, and at Costa Coffeebranches across the country.

Keep Wales Tidy Chief Executive Lesley Jones said: “Our most recent street cleanliness survey showed that drinks receptacles were found on 43% of streets. Like all litter, this not only affects the look and feel of our communities, but has a significant and far-reaching impact on wildlife, our health and well-being and the local economy. As a country we must do better. Every small change that you make to your everyday life can make a positive difference. Take a step in the right direction by carrying a reusable bottle and filling up on the go.”

Rhian Corcoran from Swansea Environment Centre – who also helps to run Refill Swansea – said: “As lockdown has eased, we have seen a rise in litter around Swansea, and in the number of plastic bottles people are bringing out with them whilst out and about. We hope that by being part of the #RefillRevolution and giving people the chance to find us on the Refill app, we can help locals to stay hydrated, and reduce the amount of single-use plastic in our community at the same time.”

Sophie Rae from Ripple Living Zero Waste shop in Cardiff – which is also listed on the Refill app – said: ““After seeing the way that littering increased after lockdown, we want to encourage everyone to become part of the #RefillRevolution. These small individual actions can really add up, to help to keep our streets, parks and beaches free of plastic.”

Refill Cardiff champion Julia Terlet

Refill Cardiff champion Julia Terlet said, “We’re delighted to see how engaged the local community is, from students to families. Over the past two years, Refill Cardiff has received support from many businesses, shops and organisations who want to encourage plastic-free behaviours. It’s important now that we continue to spread the word!”

In the UK, we make our way through a mind-blowing 7.7 BILLION plastic water bottles every year whilst an estimated 700,000 plastic bottles are littered every single day.

We have some of the best quality drinking water in the world – directly from our taps – and scientists, including over 125 experts from around the world, have said reusables are perfectly safe to use.

City to Sea is encouraging people to try and reduce the amount of plastic waste they create over the Autumn by:

  • Carrying a reusable bottle or coffee cup when out and about.
  • Downloading the FREE Refill app to find Refill stations for a free tap water refill.
  • Supporting the local businesses who ARE accepting reusables by showing them some love on social media and using the hashtag #RefillRevolution.
  • If you find a business that’s NOT accepting refills, share City to Sea’s Refill water guidance to help them get back on board, tag them on social media & ask them to join the #RefillRevolution.