The convenience sector’s commitment to providing free water refills to customers has been highlighted by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) in response to a new report from Greenpeace.
The report, published by the Environmental Investigation Agency and Greenpeace, revealed that UK supermarkets had sold more than one million water bottles in 2018. Campaigners are calling for retailers to install water dispensers for customers in store and to force brands to offer soft drinks from refill stations so customers can refill their own bottles.
Figures from the latest ACS Voice of Local Shops survey show that more than half of independent retailers in the convenience sector (51%) currently offer water refills for customers.
ACS has recently published guidance for convenience stores on what to look out for when providing water refills. The guidance sets out the different ways that retailers can provide a water refill service in store, as well as highlighting some of the operational challenges of offering this service.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We are pleased to see convenience stores taking strides to reduce plastic waste by providing a water refill facility for customers. This is one of several ways that local shops are providing essential services for customers and promoting environmental responsibility.”
The report found that seven out of ten major UK supermarkets had seen an increase in their plastic footprint over the last year. Greenpeace is now calling for an increase in the plastic bag charge to 70p to help reduce plastic waste.
Lowman continued: “We’ve seen huge progress by convenience stores in cutting the use of plastics by voluntarily charging for carrier bags. We hope the next Government will finally introduce compulsory charging for all retailers.”