Theresa May recently announced plans to reduce the amount of waste plastic produced across Britain. This move follows the growing, widespread realisation of the effects plastic is having on our oceans. Succeeding this, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has divulged plans to introduce a series of new water fountains across the capital in order to reduce the country’s growing problem.
What is Involved in the Initiative
A network of water fountains and bottle-refill points will crop up across a variety of London boroughs throughout the year. Khan hopes this will reduce single-use plastic consumption within the city while improving health through access to free water.
An initial twenty fountains will appear in the most in-need locations with plans to increase this figure in the future. Meanwhile, the deputy mayor for environment Shirley Rodrigues, who is to be running the scheme, is working with local businesses to introduce a bottle re-fill initiative. This means that participating restaurants and cafes will soon be offering free tap water to the public. The scheme will be trialled throughout February and March across five London boroughs; if successful, the whole of London will become involved in time for summer.
Water Fountains Scheme – Bigger Picture
These plans come as part of Khan’s three year, £750,000 scheme to reduce London’s plastic usage overall. He has promised that by 2026 London will have reduced its packing waste, will have improved public access to tap water and made sure no biodegradable or recyclable waste ends up in landfill.
Other examples of waste reduction involve the removal of plastic cups, bottles and cutlery from City Hall; this will come into force in the near future.
London is Getting Behind the Scheme
It seems that London corporations are also getting behind the schemes’ latest initiative. The #OneLess Campaign organised by the Zoological Society will be in charge of supplying the fountains while also analysing whether the initiatives succeed in reducing the levels of plastic ending up in the environment.
Furthermore, Network rail has changed its stance towards implementing water fountains into its stations. As reported by The Guardian the company issued a statement back in December saying, “Water fountains are not a facility we currently have in stations and there are currently no plans to do so.” However, more recently a spokesperson from Network Rail has said, “We are supportive of having water fountains in our managed stations and will be looking to see how we can take this forward.”
The Finer Details
The locations featured and the businesses taking part in the scheme are factors that still require further exploration. However, Rodrigues confirmed to The Guardian that TfL tube stations and busy shopping destinations such as Oxford Street are among possible sites. The businesses offering free tap water will also display signs in their windows to show their participation. Hopes for an app to locate the nearest bottle refill points and water fountains are also in the pipeline.
This is a big step for London and the UK as a whole in reducing our overall plastic waste. What’s more, introducing this in time for summer is fantastic for Londoners and the swathes of visitors the city receives each year. Look out for a new refill point in your borough within the coming months.