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The scourge of the Single Use Plastic Water Bottle (SUPB)

Last week, I was among a panel of six guests invited to address the London Assembly Environment Committee investigating the pressing issue of treating London’s 21st century bottle plague.

The litter and pollution menace of disposed single-use plastic drinks bottles is now reaching epidemic proportions, worldwide. In London alone they constitute 35% of the plastic debris collected from the River Thames. San Francisco has already placed a city-wide ban on their use in public spaces.

Although a non-Londoner, my invite to the table was principally because of our work with Hydrachill Water Refilling Stations, now helping provide refillable access to free drinking water, including for London commuters.

Amidst the anguish I was also hopefully able to offer further optimism, based on our experience over nearly two decades with refillable water bottles under the Schoolbottle and Sportsbottle brands.

You see, I believe our biggest hope lies in our progress with schools. During this period we’ve seen remarkable reusable bottle growth in the education sector, beginning with primary schools. We’ve supplied thousands of schools with growing numbers of reusable water bottles, year on year.

Yes, I know we have a lovely product and are nice to do business with, thanks! But really this growth has to do with much more than the quality of our merchandise and friendly approachability.

What it shows is the excellent work being undertaken by schools and teachers across the UK, in teaching children not just the importance of good healthy hydration, but the environmental importance of retaining and reusing water bottles responsibly and simply refilling them with UK tap water, which remains among the best in the world

Which means that after an era in which the bottled water market has seduced a generation with glamorous marketing, good sense is now striking back. Encouraged by their schools, a new generation is becoming alert to the environmental problem of bottle waste and its responsible reusable solution.

It’s amazing how rapidly our pupils become our teachers, with kids quickly becoming our conscience, frowning upon what their elders once considered a norm. Educated in the consequences, here’s hoping that single-use plastic water bottles will soon join drink-driving, fur coats and public smoking on the anti-social dustbin of history.
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