Your Guide to Refill Stations in the UK

According to Water UK (a membership organization with the goal of promoting policy and sustainable solutions to water access), the water sector faces growing challenges from population growth and climate change. It is predicted that in the next 25 years, access to public drinking water will become an even larger barrier than it is today due to tightening environmental standards and changing customer expectations of what is to be considered clean water.

According to the Guardian’s “Bottle It” campaign in 2017, 38.5 million plastic bottles are used in the UK alone every single day, yet less than half make it into the recycling bin, leaving the rest for the landfill, and even worse, the oceans, which are predicted to inhabit more plastic than fish in years to come if habits do not change. Jeremy Simons, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s environment committee, said: “The impact of single-use plastics on both littering and marine life cannot be ignored.” 

These concerns have encouraged the evolution of the UK water sector’s regulatory framework, which will ensure that the water sector can continue to provide clean drinking water to the public, both in and outside the home (Water UK).  The Purpose of Water UK goes beyond merely water access and focuses on community partnerships “to promote the conditions needed to achieve our vision through leadership in bringing people together, informing debate and generating ideas” (WaterUK).

Water UK  is using technology and innovation to create a network of businesses and local authorities offering to refill water bottles in every English town and city by 2021, where users can find locations through on app on their phone, making the process efficient and user friendly. Businesses offering free water have an incentive also, refilling stations bring customers in the door seeking hydration, and potentially wanting more.

Another solution that is gaining traction across the world is water refilling stations, which the city of London has committed to installing in majorly trafficked hubs like shopping areas and tube stations during summer 2018. One city official noted, “These plans are at an early stage but Plastic Free City will harness the clear public desire for change and reduce the impact that single-use plastics are having on our environment.”

How is this any different than the water fountains we see in parks, airports, and other public facilities? Who hasn’t left a fountain feeling even thirstier than when you drank from it? The slow trickle of water and awkward angles makes water fountains seem like an invention the past, reserved for kids playing at parks or short sip after a long and dehydrating airplane flight. The design of the stations will offer the ability to refill your water bottle, as to avoid drinking straight from the spout — a connotation received by many as “dirty” and inefficient.

Jerry Bottle, a social enterprise, emphasises the importance of reusable bottles to prevent this from happening, while simultaneously encouraging the trend to hydrate and eliminate plastic water bottle usage through water bottle sales. 100% of their profits fund water projects in India and Tanzania, where people often have to walk for miles every morning to gain access to clean drinking water to carry back to their village for their entire family to use..  

In the UK, we are lucky to have access to water on the shelves of almost every market and food store, but the convenience pays a large price. According to Jerry Bottle, bottled water sits on the shelves for months before it makes it into your hands, allowing the epoxy resins from the plastic leach into the water. Now doesn’t a water fountain sound more attractive now?!

Here are some ideas on how to stay hydrated while reducing plastic water bottle usage!

  • Choose a better bottle – reusable water bottles look cool, add some stickers to flare yours up
  • Order a glass of water at the bar every time you buy a drink at the bar, and don’t let yourself order another until the water is finished – this trick will help out your wallet too!
  • Don’t throw your plastic bottles away, decorate it, pick a flower, and make a vase! This will serve as a constant reminder that no plastic should be single use.  
  • Try water enhancers like Mio or Dasani Drops, calorie free and tons of great flavors!
  • Use the public spouts, take a photo, and tag the Refill Campaign! Water fountains have a “dirty” connotation, let’s make them trendy!

Need a bottle to use at refilling stations? Check out our newest line of colorful, reusable bottles that give back!

You can also find out where your closest refill station is by downloading the refill app here.


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