Costa Coffee owners Whitbread PLC joins forces with water industry to cut plastic bottle use

People will soon be able to refill any type of water bottle for free in thousands of places across the UK in a new national scheme.

In an ambitious drive to help fight plastic waste, water companies will join forces with the Refill campaign to create a national network of high street retailers, coffee shops, and businesses willing to provide refill stations for the public to top-up their water bottles for free.

Whitbread PLC became the first business to join the scheme and has pledged to offer free drinking water for customers and passers-by in each of its 3000 Costa Coffee and Premier Inn locations from March 2018.

James Pitcher, Director of Sustainability, Whitbread PLC (owners of Costa Coffee and Premier Inn) said: “We are very much looking forward to participating in this innovative scheme.

“With over 3,000 Costa stores, Premier Inn hotels and restaurants the length and breadth of the country we can make it easier for people to refill for free, helping to reduce the number of plastic bottles being littered or thrown away.”

People will be able to use an app on their phone to find out where the nearest refill point is, or look out for special signs in shop windows.

As well as being able to get drinking water from shops, cafes and businesses, some water companies are looking at installing new public drinking fountains and restoring some historical ones which have fallen into disuse.

The Refill campaign now has over 1600 refill stations across the UK. Three water companies are currently taking part in local schemes in England to provide free drinking water, with support for a massive expansion of the scheme over the next two years.

Natalie Fee, founder of City to Sea, the organisation behind the Refill scheme, said: “Our Refill app puts the power to stop plastic pollution in people’s hands – and now thanks to the water industry we’ll be able to help everyone, from local communities to airports, to provide free refills on the go.”

Last month Costa Coffee announced they are removing plastic straws from their stores later this year and will launch a non-plastic alternative in a drive to reduce plastic waste.

Costa Coffee currently have six locations in Colchester with one near ASDA, three in the town centre and two in locations Stanway.