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Thames Water and the Mayor call on Londoners to cut single-use plastics and use public drinking water fountains 

Thursday 16th June 2022 08:30

A Thames Water drinking fountain on a high street

  • Thames Water, in partnership with the Mayor of London, has installed 100 fountains across London.
  • It is estimated 71% of Londoners buy at least one single-use plastic water bottle every week, equating to over one billion a year
  • World Refill Day 2022 aims to prevent plastic pollution and help people live with less plastic waste.
  • The partnership has also announced today an additional 20 drinking fountains to be made available in London schools this summer, to help to increase the number of water-only schools.

On World Refill Day, Londoners are being encouraged to ditch single-use plastic bottles and access free high-quality drinking water at Thames Water and the Mayor of London's fountains across the capital.

World Refill Day (June 16) is a global campaign to prevent plastic pollution and help people live with less waste.

It's estimated up to one billion single-use plastic bottles are used in London each year, with as many as 71% of Londoners buying at least one plastic bottle every week. Water bottles represent almost half of all the drink bottles found in the Thames, making it the single most common type of drink bottle.

In 2019, Thames Water opened its first water fountains in partnership with the Mayor of London. Since then, the company has installed 100 fountains across London's boroughs with more to follow. By the end of July 2022 Thames Water will have installed 110 fountains in total. Data collected from smart meters show that the fountains currently dispense up to 441 litres per week, the equivalent of nearly 900 500ml single-use bottles.

The simple-to-use fountains located across the capital, mean thirsty Londoners and visitors are able to refill their own reusable bottles with free top-quality tap water while reducing plastic waste. The fountains are completely accessible, safe and regularly cleaned. Thames Water will clean and maintain the fountains for at least 25 years.

Customers can download the free Refill app to find more than 4,000 cafes, restaurants and pubs offering free refills across London including the Thames Water and Mayor of London fountains.

In addition, Thames Water and the Mayor have also announced today the installation of 20 drinking fountains in London schools this summer, to help to increase the number of water-only schools. Going water-only in school is beneficial to children’s health and wellbeing, and schools who have made the change have seen pupils’ behaviour and learning improve. It also encourages pupils to use reusable water bottles from a young age.

Sarah Bentley, CEO, Thames Water, said: “World Refill Day reminds us how we can all make small changes to cut plastic waste and using our free water fountains as part of your daily routine is a great way to do this. London has some of the best quality tap water in the world and it’s great to see lots of people grabbing a reusable bottle, stopping by one of our fountains and enjoying it. Helping customers, communities and the environment to thrive is in Thames Water’s DNA and I’m delighted that we’re able to provide fresh, high quality drinking water to Londoners and those visiting.”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “Delivering more water fountains in London and ensuring that our shops and cafes offer free tap water is an important part of my work to help Londoners easily make small changes that will have a big environmental impact. That’s why, on World Refill Day, I’m delighted that more than 100 drinking fountains have been installed in the capital to help more Londoners top up their reusable bottles to do their bit for the environment. In addition to the fountains, there are now over 4,000 cafes, restaurants and pubs offering free refills across the city through Refill London.

“Our growing network of water fountains will help even more people refill on the go and become much-loved additions to our public spaces, stations and busy areas of the capital as we build a better London for everyone.”

Natalie Fee, Founder and CEO of City to Sea, the organisation behind the Refill campaign, added, “This World Refill Day’s all about tapping into communities to use less plastic and get refilling. But, for this to happen we need the physical infrastructure in place to make this easy and accessible for everyone. The Refill campaign makes sure Londoners are never far away from free to access, quality tap water that completely cuts out the need to buy expensive single-use bottles of water. It’s good for the planet and good for our bank balances!”

The fountains, supplied by MIW Water Experts, are funded by Thames Water and the Mayor of London and installed and maintained by Thames Water.

The fountains were closed during the pandemic and reopened to the public in July 2021 by Paralympian David Weir.