The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Greenpeace have urged supermarkets in the UK to install water dispensers as an alternative to single-use plastic bottles, to start a ‘refill revolution’ and reduce plastic waste levels.
A new report carried out by Greenpeace reveals that bottled water sales from six major supermarkets increased 8.2% to reach nearly a billion bottles in 2018.
The report surveyed all UK supermarkets, and found that Aldi, Iceland, Tesco and Waitrose all increased plastic water bottle sales between 2017 and 2018. At Iceland, plastic water bottle sales increased by 20.5m, up by more than a fifth.
The same report found that none of the top ten supermarkets in the UK offer water dispensers across all stores for customers to refill their reusable bottles.
A statement from the EIA urged UK supermarkets to ‘drastically reduce’ plastic water bottle sales by installing water dispensers as an alternative to single-use bottles. The NGO also called on supermarkets to offer soft drinks from refill stations, so customers can refill their bottles.
Recycling collection rates for plastic bottles in the UK are stagnant at about 59%, and the EIA claims that this demonstrates the need to drastically reduce how many plastic bottles are made and sold in the first place.
EIA ocean campaigner Juliet Phillips said: “Single-use water bottles might seem convenient yet their impact on the environment is anything but.
“There’s untapped potential for a refill revolution in the drinks market – we urge supermarkets to work with brands to make these options available and accessible to customers across the country.”
Fiona Nicholls, an ocean plastics campaigner for Greenpeace UK, added: “Plastic bottles and caps are the top plastic items polluting our beaches, yet despite this UK supermarkets keep selling more and more of them.
“This has to stop. Supermarkets need to get throwaway plastic water bottles off their shelves and enable customers to fill up their own bottles in-store, from water or soft drinks dispensers.”
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