Monday, April 19News For London

To reduce plastic waste, London’s answer is water fountains

London’s mayor Sadiq Khan plans to roll out a new network of water fountains and bottle-refill stations to reduce plastic waste. It is part of a wider plan to make London a more sustainable city.

The fountains will be placed in busy pedestrian areas, parks and public squares across the capital.

A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute (Photo: Alice Facchini).

Mr. Khan is calling on citizens to reduce the use of single-use packaging, such as plastic water bottles. He also hopes to set up ways of getting businesses to make their tap water available to the general public, building on a scheme launched two years ago in Bristol.

Twitter reacted positively to the news:

Fountains in London

Currently, London councils have 110 publicly accessible drinking fountains. To find them, one can check the map on the Find a Fountain website.

However, a Keep Britain Tidy survey shows that most people do not know their rights to free drinking water from businesses and public buildings.

62 per cent of British people say they would drink more tap water if it was readily available, but only 25 per cent of the public know when they can ask for water for free – while 71 per cent feel awkward asking for water from venues if they are not a customer.

The bottled water market

A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20 per cent by 2021.

New figures obtained by The Guardian show that more than 480 billion plastic bottles were sold in 2016 across the world.

In the last 20 years, the UK bottled water market has grown from just 800 million litres to almost 3.2 billion, and now it is worth over £2.4 billion.

According to three separate reports, volumes have more than doubled over the past 15 years and consumption per person now stands at more than 51 litres a year.

Bottles destroy the environment

Fewer than half of the plastic bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling, and just 7 per cent were turned into new bottles.

Instead, a large number end up buried in landfill sites or littering the ocean.

Between 5 million and 13 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the world’s oceans each year, and by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic than fish, according to a research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Chemicals in plastic bottles

There is a danger in refilling plastic bottles. Some of them are made from plastic containing Bisphenol A – a controversial chemical, which is thought to interfere with sex hormones. The chemical isn’t found in ‘single-use’ water bottles, which are made from PET plastic.

The NHS has confirmed Bisphenol A has the potential to migrate into beverages. However, they said that more research is required into its affects on humans.

(Subbing: Katt Adachi)