3rd July 2022



Free water on tap in Greater Manchester

4 min read

Sarah Irving, Refill Regional Coordinator, Councillor Alan Quinn, Cabinet Member for the Environment, Bury Council, Michelle Lynch, Principal Officer – Sustainable Consumption and Production at Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Chris Matthews

Free water on tap in Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester joins the Refill Revolution preventing millions of plastic bottles at source

Refill, the award-winning campaign to prevent plastic pollution by connecting people with free tap water, launches in Greater Manchester with the installation of two water fountains in Bury as part of a pilot scheme. It marks the start of a growing network of free indoor and outdoor water refilling stations across the region to reduce the number of plastic bottles going into our waterways.

The Refill campaign, which was set up by not-for-profit City to Sea, works by connecting people who are looking for water, with thousands of local business, transport hubs and public spaces where they can refill for free via a location-based app.Anyone can download the app to find Refill Stations near them. Participating cafes, bars, restaurants, banks, galleries, museums and other businesses simply sign up to the app and put a sticker in their window – alerting passers-by that they’re welcome to come on in and fill up their bottle

The new water fountains in Bury have been funded by Eunomia and the pilot is in partnership with Refill, United Utilities and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) as part of the Mayor’s Plastic Free GM Campaign. The first bottle filling fountain will be installed in St Mary’s Park in Prestwich, with another indoor fountain planned for Prestwich library.

The bottle filling fountain in St Mary’s Park will be switched on on Monday 20 March as part of the Mayor’s Green Summit.

Supporting the scheme, Councillor Alan Quinn, Cabinet Member for the Environment at Bury Council said: “More and more people are becoming aware of the dangers to the environment of plastic waste. Bury Council are delighted to work in partnership with Refill, GMCA and UU to install four public water fountains in Prestwich (2), Radcliffe and Ramsbottom. We need to reduce the amount of plastic waste we consume especially single use plastic bottles. Providing these public water fountains will enable local residents to re fill their own bottles and help win the war on plastic waste.”

There will be an additional two public refilling stations planned in Ramsbottom and Radcliffe in the coming months, as well as an increase in cafes and restaurants signing up as Refill Stations to offer free throughout Greater Manchester.

Sarah Irving, Refill Regional Coordinator said: “Refill encourages more people to take one small step away from relying on single use plastic bottles. It’s a really simple concept with a really big potential result and with access to outdoor bottle refilling stations as well as café taps, it has become far easier to Refill on the go”

The average adult buys more than 3 plastic water bottles every week* – a startling 175 bottles every year per person. In total, some 7.7 billion plastic water bottles are bought across the UK each year, resulting in substantial amounts of single-use plastic waste ending up in our oceans.

Councillor Alex Ganotis, GMCA Green City Region Lead said: The launch of the Refill pilot in Bury is part of a growing range of initiatives across Greater Manchester to help reduce the amount of single-use plastics we use every day. Schemes like Refill are making a big difference, making it easier for people to use refillable bottles, cutting down the amount of plastic waste that ends up as litter and harms our environment. At this year’s Green Summit, we will be launching our five-year environment plan to set us on the path to carbon neutrality in 2038. A key priority is to eradicate avoidable single-use plastics in Greater Manchester, moving to more sustainable options, promoting re-use first. We look forward to a successful partnership and seeing further Refill Stations and fountains rolled out across our city-region.

Chris Matthews, Head of Sustainability, United Utilities said: “Every day, we bring high quality water to homes and businesses across Greater Manchester. At the Mayor’s Green Summit last year, we pledged to work with partners to bring the Refill campaign to Greater Manchester and make our great water available when people are out and about. We are delighted to see the first fountain installed in St Mary’s Park, Prestwich, having worked alongside Refill, GMCA and Bury Council. We hope this will spur on the community to get behind the campaign to reduce the number of single use plastic bottles and enjoy great tasting water on tap!”

Astonishingly, if just 1 in 10 Brits Refilled just once a week, we’d save around 340 million plastic bottles a year! The Refill app helps to make refilling as easy as possible with some statistics to show how you’re positively impacting the environment by refilling.

Sarah added: “To make this a real success throughout the region, we need your help. You could be the next Local Champion running a Refill Scheme in your local area. The more people involved the bigger the impact and a show of what the fab people of Greater Manchester can achieve when we work together!”

There are now more than 17,000 refill stations signed up in the UK alone – including railway stations, airports and high street chains such as Costa, Starbucks and Wetherspoons. If they are all used just twice a day, together, we’re stopping around 10 million plastic bottles at source in a year.

Find out more about Refill and how you can take part at the Refill website at www.refill.org.uk to download the free Refill app and find out more about the Refill movement.

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