Data released today from the #OneLess campaign shows that public drinking fountains installed across London over the past year, as a part of the campaign’s pilot project with the Mayor of London, are being widely used and could be contributing to a reduction in plastic bottle usage across the city.
No less than 77,737 litres of water have been dispensed by 15 fountains in the last 12 months, that’s – the equivalent of 155,474 500ml single-use plastic water bottles.
Since March 2018, the fountain in Kingly Court, Carnaby has dispensed the equivalent of 37,158 500ml plastic water bottles and the two fountains in Liverpool Street Station have dispensed the equivalent of 57,785 500ml bottles since July 2018.
All public drinking fountains in the initiative were installed by the #OneLess campaign’s Fountain Fund, with funding from the Greater London Authority (GLA) and MIW Water Cooler Experts, a #OneLess champion and pioneer.
For many busy Londoners, buying a plastic water bottle may once have seemed like the only way to access drinking water when moving through the city.
However, preliminary research – carried out by Masters Students at Imperial College London on behalf of #OneLess – indicates that these new drinking fountains could be contributing to a reduction in bottled water usage.
More than half (53%) of fountain users surveyed self-reported that they use fewer plastic bottles due to more fountains being available.
And 84% of fountain users surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that they consciously avoid using single-use plastic bottles because they want to protect the ocean.
The #OneLess campaign is led by international conservation charity ZSL and is working to drastically reduce the amount of single-use plastic water bottles in London, creating a city-wide refillable drinking culture.
ZSL’s Fiona Llewellyn, Project Manager of the #OneLess campaign said: “We’re delighted that this #OneLess initiative has already proved such a tremendous success and that Londoners are choosing to hydrate in a way that supports a cleaner and healthier ocean.”
“The fountains have already dispensed the equivalent of more than 155,000 500ml single-use plastic water bottles over the last 12 months. These initial results are very positive and indicate that drinking fountains could play a key role in reducing London’s plastic footprint and creating a more sustainable city.”
Mike Winter, CEO of MIW Water Cooler Experts said: “Our aim is to make drinking fountains as much part of our street landscape as the post box – the latest models of Elkay outdoor fountains are tougher, safer and more accessible than ever before, and it’s clear that people love to use them.”
As part of a wider initiative to reduce single-use plastics in the capital, the Mayor of London working with Thames Water on a £5 million project to install a wider network of over 100 more fountains in locations across London.
Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy said: “It is fantastic that our fountains are having a major impact in reducing unnecessary single-use plastic waste. Our fountain network is an important part of the Mayor’s work to protect the environment from plastic waste and promote the use of sustainable, reusable bottles.
“The Mayor is continuing to expand water fountain provision in London throughout the year so that thousands more people can keep hydrated across the city.”
The latest fountain associated with this initiative is owned by The Crown Estate and is located on South St Alban’s Street, moments from Piccadilly Circus, and conveniently placed for the thousands of workers and tourists who walk nearby each day.
Jane Wakiwaka, sustainability manager, The Crown Estate, said: “We are delighted to support the refill revolution and to play our part in helping to reduce plastic waste. Our water fountain in St James’s offers easy access to free drinking water for anyone who is working, shopping or visiting the West End.”
Simon Quayle, Director, Shaftesbury said: “Shaftesbury are proud to be the first Property Owner in London’s West End to install a water fountain in the heart of Carnaby. As part of our sustainability commitment we are planning to install more water fountains across our portfolio.”
OneLess will be publishing a detailed drinking fountain toolkit, summarising insights and lessons learned from this pilot project.
It will provide advice and guidance to organisations and establishments interested in installing a drinking fountain.
This open access resource is due to be published next month.