A new network of drinking fountains and bottle-refill points is set to be rolled out across London this year as part of a plan to reduce the amount of waste created by single-use plastic.
Twenty new drinking fountains will be installed across London in a pilot scheme starting this summer, while a bottle-refill initiative, in which businesses make tap water available to the public, will be set up across five areas of the capital over February and March. If successful, it will be rolled out to the rest of the city in the summer. Plastic cups, bottles and cutlery will also no longer be available at City Hall under the plans.
The plans are part of a proposed three-year, £750,000 initiative from the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to tackle plastic waste in the capital, and will be put before the London Assembly’s budget committee on Thursday.
“We shouldn’t be using single-use plastics, the impact on the environment is so immense,” the deputy mayor for environment, Shirley Rodrigues, told the Guardian, adding that programmes like the BBC’s Blue Planet had brought home to scale of the problem for many. “We just need to get on now and stop their use in London.”
An investigation by the Guardian published last month revealed that there are stark disparities in the provision of drinking fountains across London’s boroughs: while Sutton and Barnet had none, Lambeth and Tower Hamlets had 25 and 13 working fountains respectively. Across England’s 36 metropolitan boroughs, covering many of the country’s other major cities, only eight fountains were working, with none in Manchester, Liverpool or Birmingham.
The latest plans appear to be a move to follow through on recent proposals from Khan to reduce packaging waste, improve access to tap water and make sure no biodegradable or recyclable waste is sent to landfill by 2026.
Among those working with the mayor on the new plans is the #OneLess campaign, led by the Zoological Society of London, which is supplying the fountains and will analyse whether the initiatives reduce the levels of plastic ending up in the environment.
Paul O’Connell, a trustee of the Drinking Fountain Association set up in 1859, welcomed Khan’s plans.
“In the past we have had vague promises and announcements, so to hear specifics around numbers – and, most importantly, dates – is really good. Obviously summer is when demand for water goes up, so having [fountains] in time for this summer will help,” he said, adding that other cities including Liverpool and Manchester should follow suit.
For the full article that appeared in The Guardian click here.