Shops urged to offer free water to cut plastic bottles
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.’