Supermarkets urged to install water dispensers after a billion plastic bottles sold last year

25th November 2019 | Recycling

Eco groups are calling on Britain’s supermarkets to install water dispensers after it was discovered sales of water in plastic bottles soared to more than a billion last year. Aldi, Tesco and Waitrose all increased their sales of plastic water bottles between 2017 and 2018, but Iceland had the highest percentage rise – of 20.5 million bottled to 116.5 million, or 21.4 per cent.

Campaigners are calling for retailers to drastically cut plastic water bottle sales and to offer water dispensers in stores for customers to refill their own bottles. None of the top 10 supermarkets has water dispensers across all stores. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Greenpeace, which surveyed all UK supermarkets, found that sales of the plastic bottles went up by 8.2 per cent at six leading chains that provided year-on-year figures.

Water dispenser

Two chains – ASDA and Sainsbury’s – did not reveal how much water they sold in either year. Lidl and Morrisons did not give 2017 figures, but sold 58 million and 129 million bottles respectively last year. At Marks & Spencer and the Co-op plastic water bottle sales fell slightly, to 15 million and 19.7 million respectively.

The researchers called on retailers to also force soft-drinks brands to provide refill stations to help curb the plastic that is a menace to wildlife and marine life.
Fiona Nicholls, ocean plastics campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said, “Plastic bottles and caps are the top plastic items polluting our beaches, yet despite this UK supermarkets keep selling more and more of them. This has to stop. Supermarkets need to get throwaway plastic water bottles off their shelves and enable customers to fill up their own bottles in store, from water of soft drink dispensers.”

Juliet Phillips, oceans campaigner at EIA, said, “There’s untapped potential for a refill revolution in the drinks market. We urge supermarkets to work with brands to make these options available and accessible to customers across the country.”

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