Environment

Sadiq Khan approves 100 water fountains across London

The city mayor will pour in a £5m fund to continue the war on single-use plastic bottles

Pollution represented by a plastic bottle found on a beach.

Sadiq Khan has greenlit plans to create a network of water fountains across London in the continued battle to reduce single-use plastic waste.

The Mayor of London has already introduced 20 water fountains across the city with more than 8,000 litres of drinking water dispensed from the two Liverpool Street station fountains in one month alone.

The popularity of the existing fountains has inspired Khan to team-up with Thames Water on a new £5m fund to install more, with applications open to councils, businesses, venues and land owners.

More fountains will hit the streets from spring 2019 as part of the crackdown on plastic, inspired by Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II series.

Currently, the average Londoner buys more than three plastic water bottles every week which amounts to 175 bottles every year, according to waterway charity Thames21’s #OneLess campaign. The group found almost 3,500 bottles in the River Thames last month, with water bottles overtaking fizzy drinks bottles for the first time.

Across the UK, there are around 7.7 billion bottles bought each year with the majority being used just once.

”For many years, our public water fountains were discarded and neglected, whilst single-use plastic waste soared,” said Mayor Khan. “We’re determined to reverse that trend and help deliver hundreds more free public fountains in the capital for everyone to enjoy.

“There is a real appetite for refilling and I want Londoners to lead the way in topping up on tap water when we’re on the move. This great new fund will significantly boost the number of public fountains in some of the busiest places across London from next spring. The fountains we’ve already delivered this year are attracting thousands of visitors and helping people make small but important changes in reducing plastic consumption.”

Steve Robertson, chief executive of Thames Water, added: “By making it even more accessible for Londoners on the move we can together limit the use of millions of single-use plastic bottles which sadly end up in landfill or in our rivers and oceans.”

While the move is also a welcome step towards improving access to water, Refill, an app-based national campaign to highlight free bottle refill points, has been given the mayor’s backing.

But campaigners Water for London are calling for fountains to be rolled out across the entire Transport for London network as well.

Welcome news from the Mayor of London and Thames Water to deliver a new generation of water fountains for London to provide plastic-free, healthy hydration for those that live, work and play in the city,” a Water for London spokesperson said. “By end of 2020, Water for London would like to see size of this new network of public refill fountains eclipse the 800 fountains that existed in London 100 years ago. This would show visionary and bold leadership from Mayor of London.”

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