April 18, 2021

Time for hospitality to #ReturnToRefill to cut plastic litter

In response to the terrible images of single-use plastic littering the nation’s parks and beauty spots in the past week, plastic pollution campaigning organisation, City to Sea, is calling on businesses to #ReturnToRefill and get reusables back on the menu as they start to reopen on Monday the 12th of April.  

Today (Thursday 8th April) City to Sea, which is behind the award-winning Refill campaign and app which helps people to eat, drink and shop with less plastic, are highlighting the simple steps coffee shops and food service businesses can follow to keep their customers safe and look after the planet at the same time. The organisation is encouraging businesses to accept environmentally friendly reusables products like coffee cups and water bottles saying that it’s time to get ready to ‘reopen, reuse and refill’.  

City to Sea has produced free guidance for businesses in accepting water refills in reusable bottles, reusable coffee cup refills and food packaging refills, as well as providing a comprehensive road map for the food-to-go sector to move away from single-use packaging. This guidance they say is ‘essential’ if we are to avoid more scenes of our parks covered in single-use plastic.  

The guidance comes ahead of cafes, pubs and restaurants opening across the country. Restaurants and pubs will be allowed to serve customers outdoors from 12th April – but customers must order, eat and drink while seated at a table. 

In June last year, the campaigning organisation launched its #ContactlessCoffee campaign, which has since been adopted by high street chains including Pret, Costa and Starbucks, as well as by municipalities around the world from Vancouver to California saving countless tonnes of single-use coffee cups from entering our waste stream  

Over 115 health experts from 18 countries have signed a statement assuring retailers and consumers that reusables are safe during Covid-19. The health experts emphasise that disposable products are not inherently safer than reusables and that reusable systems can be utilised safely during the pandemic by employing basic hygiene.  

City to Sea’s Campaigns Marketing and Campaigns Manager, Jo Morley, said: “This summer we need food outlets to make sure they put reusables back on the menu. While some have already started accepting reusable again, others have been slower to get on board and enable their customers to have a choice when it comes to ditching single-use plastic. If we want to avoid scenes like we saw last weekend, with our parks covered in mountains of plastic and packaging, we need businesses to be encouraging customers to use reusables and following our simple guidance.

“If you’re heading out to meet friends and family for the first time, we can all take simple steps to keep ourselves and our planet safe. This means picking up your reusable facemask, water bottle or coffee cup and popping them in your bag – ready to refill on the go using the free Refill app. Our small actions can have a big impact – if just one in ten Brits refilled a water bottle just once a week around 340m plastic bottles a year would be saved! Before the pandemic, most of us were in the habit of carrying our reusable bottle and we need to make sure we haven’t slipped back to reaching for the single-use plastic.”