Daily Mail

Shops urged to of­fer free wa­ter to cut plas­tic bot­tles

- By Sean Poul­ter Con­sumer Af­fairs Editor Water Security · Social Issues · Society · United Kingdom · Centre for Social Innovation

HIGH Street busi­nesses are un­der pres­sure to of­fer free tap wa­ter in a crack­down on plas­tic bot­tles.

Mil­lions buy bot­tles of wa­ter when they would rather carry a re­us­able one and get free re­fills, a study found.

Li­censed premises such as bars and res­tau­rants are legally re­quired to pro­vide free drink­ing wa­ter on re­quest. But some refuse, or charge for use of a glass.

Re­searchers found cus­tomers be­lieve a le­gal right to free tap wa­ter should cover all busi­nesses sell­ing food and drink on the go. More than seven in ten sur­veyed – 73 per cent – said they would like there to be greater avail­abil­ity of free tap wa­ter.

Around six in ten said firms serv­ing food or drink should pro­vide free wa­ter, re­gard­less of whether some­one is a cus­tomer or not. The same pro­por­tion said they would be more likely to carry a re­us­able bot­tle if tap wa­ter was more freely avail­able. Keep Bri­tain Tidy cam­paign­ers said this would help cut the num­ber of plas­tic bot­tles dumped in land­fill.

High street sales of plain bot­tled wa­ter grew by 14 per cent last year, reach­ing 2.9bil­lion litres. That equates to around 50 litres for ev­ery man, woman and child – and a huge amount of plas­tic waste.

Re­cy­cling ef­forts for plas­tic bot­tles have stalled, with 15mil­lion thrown away ev­ery day in Bri­tain. The Daily Mail’s Take Back Your Bot­tles cam­paign has en­cour­aged drinks firms and min­is­ters to re­think the prob­lem, in­clud­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of a de­posit and re­fund sys­tem for bot­tles.

The YouGov sur­vey of more than 2,000 peo­ple was jointly funded by Keep Bri­tain Tidy and wa­ter fil­ter firm BRITA UK. A re­port by Keep Bri­tain Tidy’s Cen­tre for So­cial In­no­va­tion called for leg­is­la­tion to en­sure greater ac­cess to free tap wa­ter.

BRITA’s Sarah Taylor said: ‘It’s great to see many busi­nesses al­ready proac­tively of­fer free drink­ing wa­ter but we need more to fol­low … greater avail­abil­ity of pub­lic drink­ing foun­tains, and to boost peo­ple’s un­der­stand­ing of their wa­ter rights.’

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