Plastic (not so!) fantastic: Water company leaders hit the streets on environment challenge

The winning team

15.05.2018

Around 80 of Northumbrian Water′s most senior Directors and Managers pounded the city streets of Newcastle today (Tuesday) to encourage businesses to sign up to an exciting environmental campaign.

The Refill initiative, led by plastic pollution campaign group City to Sea, involves cafes, bars, restaurants and other businesses opening their doors to allow members of the public to top up their re-fillable water bottles, reducing the reliance upon single-use plastics.

Directors and managers from across the water company were split into teams and given an hour to meet the challenge of encouraging as many businesses as possible to sign up to the campaign.

During the course of the Apprentice-style challenge, 179 businesses agreed to join the campaign, with discussions to be had on many more. Each is given window stickers and can register on the Refill mobile app, so that members of the public can see on a map where they are welcome to top up.

Refill was launched in the North East in the Durham area at the end of 2017 and, while businesses anywhere in the UK can sign-up, Northumbrian Water is currently focussing on the Newcastle area as it formally rolls the campaign out across the region.

Prior to today′s activity, more than 250 North East Refill Stations were registered on the app, which is available for Apple and Android devices.

Northumbrian Water took the lead on bringing Refill to the North East after representatives of City To Sea, the not-for-profit organisation that founded the campaign, took part in the company′s first Innovation Festival in 2017. One of the challenges in the 2018 Festival will see young people looking at how to reduce plastic waste.

Heidi Mottram, Chief Executive of Northumbrian Water, was one of those who took part in the challenge.

She said: "Refill has really taken off in the North East, having been embraced by businesses and the public. The heart-breaking Blue Planet II footage, showing the impact of plastics upon marine life, really brought what we are aiming to achieve through Refill into the public consciousness, and there is a real push to make a difference for the sake of our environment.

"It′s not too late for any organisation to sign up for Refill. It′s as simple as e-mailing our team at refill@nwl.co.uk or downloading the Refill app."

Natalie Fee, founder of City to Sea, attended the Northumbrian Water Leadership Conference to inspire water company staff and get them ready to hit the streets.

She said: "It′s been amazing to see the enthusiasm for Refill in the North East, and especially to see the senior managers and Directors rolling up their sleeves, topping up their bottles and signing up Refill stations!

"Refill puts the power to stop plastic pollution in people′s hands, so it′s great to see a leadership conference being used to do just that!"

More information is available about Refill at www.refill.org.uk.

For further media information, call 0191 3015678.

Notes to Editors: Northumbrian Water Limited supplies 2.7 million customers in the North East with both water and sewerage services, trading as Northumbrian Water, and 1.8 million customers in the South East with water services, trading as Essex & Suffolk Water.

In the most recent survey by the Consumer Council for Water, Northumbrian Water was named the UK′s most trusted water company by its customers. 2017 also saw Northumbrian Water named the world′s most ethical water company for the seventh successive year and Utility of the Year at the Utility Week Awards, for the second time in four years.

Abbey Road, Pity Me, Durham DH1 5FJ. Telephone 0345 6047468. Website: www.nwl.co.uk

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