BRITA reusable water filter bottles

Why we need to break down the barriers to refill

Consumers are demanding refillable options, so it’s time to break down the barriers to a reuse society.

It’s World Refill Day on 16th June and we would like to start the conversation early this year. As consumers have become increasingly aware and concerned about the environmental impacts of single use plastic, the refill market has boomed. Refillable water bottles and reusable coffee cups are now commonplace, and these small changes can have a huge impact on cutting down plastic pollution.

A pile of plastic bottles

Slash plastic pollution by 40%

The United Nations recently announced that by focusing on reusing and eliminating unnecessary plastics, we could slash plastic pollution by 40% by 2040. To put it into perspective, the average Brit uses 100 plastic water bottles a year, amounting to over 7 billion for the whole of the UK, according to Water UK, so a simple switch from the plastic bottle of water in your fridge to a BRITA filter jug, has the potential to eliminate a significant amount of waste.

Man packing a backpack with a BRITA reusable water filter bottle

Focus on reuse

Whilst reuse has become an increasingly popular concept, particularly over the past decade, there have been reports and early evidence to suggest that the shift towards reuse took a hit in the pandemic, during which takeaway culture took off. Despite this, there is still significant demand for refillable options, in a recently released report over 80% of consumers said they want to see their offices, restaurants, gyms, spas or the hotels they visit take measures to reduce single use plastic consumption by offering refills and, according to a survey by City2Sea, 93% of shoppers say they’d like to see more reuse and refill options when out and about.

Indeed, there remain a number of barriers to refill becoming more popular, including lack of infrastructure, awareness and sometimes even availability. A recent study looking into availability of water refill fountains found huge disparities across London boroughs, with some areas such as Havering having none, whilst others such as Southwark had 53.

Woman refilling water bottle from water station

Download the free Refill app

There are solutions that are helping solve some of these barriers, such as the free Refill app which can be downloaded to find thousands of places to eat, drink and shop with less waste. What is clear is that public demand is there. Our previous research found that 69% of Brits said they would be more likely to use a reusable water bottle when out and about if there was greater availability of tap or filtered water.

Woman drinking filtered water from a BRITA reusable water bottle

Use a refillable water bottle

Our research also found that if they didn’t have to ask staff for tap water, over three quarters of Brits would be more likely to carry a refillable water bottle with them. Encouraging consumers to refill, and raising awareness that BRITA filtered water is available at most coffee shops could help to capitalise on the public’s thirst for refill.

Reusable coffee cup

Here are three easy ways that businesses can encourage customers to refill:

  1. Offer a discount to customers who bring reusable cups, or try adding an additional charge for single use cups and plastic.
  2. Join the free refill app, to let thousands of customers know you’re a refill-friendly business.
  3. Shout about it! Put signs up to let customers know free water refills are on offer.
World Refill Day logo

World Refill Day

Ahead of World Refill Day next month, we want to help spread the message in support of this crucial global awareness campaign to prevent plastic pollution and help people live with less waste. By choosing to reuse, we’re saving polluting plastic from entering our oceans and harming the planet we love. The solutions to plastic pollution, and the climate crisis, are there – we just need to work together to take action to reduce single-use plastic.

Related content

Headquarter_710x400 mobile image

News & Stories home

Return to the News & Stories homepage.

Green globe

More CSR stories

Find out about the rest of our charity partners.

Plastic bottle in the sea

Preventing a sea of plastic pollution

Plastic pollution has a disastrous impact on the environment, but could new schemes provide practical solutions to slashing waste.