Sadiq Khan wants to install water fountains across London to reduce plastic waste
London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has announced plans to roll out a new network of water fountains across London to help reduce the amount of plastic waste littering the streets, according to reports in The Guardian.
“The mayor wants to see a reduction in the amount of single-use plastic bottles and cups across the capital and has asked City Hall officers to examine the feasibility of a pilot community water refill scheme, or other interventions,” said a spokesperson for Khan said.
Lambeth already has 25 drinking fountains, Islington and Tower Hamlets have 11 each, Southwark has 13. This new iniative would expand on this.
The news follows an announcement made in August that London’s Borough Market is phasing out the selling of plastic bottles in the area within and around the famous foodie haven.
Instead, visitors will be able to use free water fountains dotted around the 51,272ft2 site, each with a pair of streams to drink from as well as one for filling up reusable bottles.
This comes as part of the market’s pledge to become entirely plastic-free over the next six months. In addition to cutting out single-use water bottles, the market has plans to make the packaging used by its 114 traders completely biodegradable and compostable.
“It’s great that people are increasingly aware of the health benefits of keeping hydrated, but we’ve been troubled to see increasing numbers of plastic bottles used every day, which damage the environment and add to litter,” said Darren Henaghan, managing director of Borough Market.
“By using the new Borough fountains our visitors will be able to refill and refresh without having to buy a plastic bottle each time. We are proud to take this significant step forward as part of our ongoing commitment to making Borough Market Britain’s greenest place to shop and hope that others will follow suit.”
Borough Market is one of London’s main destinations in the London Bridge area, and sees thousands of tourists pass through its stalls every day. The market’s aim to go plastic-free means cafes and chain shops on its perimeter will also phase out the selling of single-use plastic bottles, although there are plans for stalls to sell Borough Market-branded reusable bottles, made from recycled plastic.
A quick scan over Find-a-fountain, which maps public fountains, shows that the capital has a surprisingly low number of free-to-use public drinking water sources for a city of its size. This comes alongside a recent report by the London Assembly environmental committee, which found that Londoners consume more plastic bottled water per person than anywhere else in England, and that plastic bottles make up 10% of all litter found in the Thames.
As well as public fountains, the report suggests the use of community water-refill schemes, which it says “could offer a more localised and financially viable approach, by encouraging Londoners to fill up their water bottles for free at participating venues”.
Image credit: Borough Market