Wellington cafes embrace plastic pollution cutting scheme allowing thirsty Kiwis free water bottle refills

A scheme in Wellington is attempting to lead the way in cutting plastic pollution, giving thirsty residents options to fill their reusable water bottles for free, with cafes eager to get on board. 

Jill Ford of RefillNZ said after travelling and seeing "the impact of plastic from deserts in Morocco to coral reefs in Colombia I decided to start Refill in New Zealand". 

Cafes are given a sticker to display, which shows people they have free water to top up drink bottles. 

She said almost all of cafes approached about the scheme had given a positive response.

"Quite a lot of the cafes are actually very aware the plastic pollution issue."

"We now have volunteers and cafes from around New Zealand contacting us to spread the word or sign up their cafes, these spread from Whitianga to Wanaka, with real keen beans in the Hawke's Bay and Dunedin, so it's all go."

"The next stage is that we've now got some funding from community trust of wellington which means we can start doing some paid social media marketing to get the word out. 

She estimated 70-80 businesses were on board around the Wellington region

Ms Ford said extending the idea to New Zealand came about after she worked on a plastic campaign with the organisation that created Refill in Britain. 

"Then after (BBC nature documentary) Blue Planet came out [the company] Water England decided to contract them to go much bigger, and now it's huge and is throughout the UK with over 15,000 businesses involved."

Councils and DHBs in the region are also said to be interested in the scheme, Ms Ford said. 

"They are into the health benefits of drinking water, because of the diabetes epidemic New Zealand is facing which is closely linked to high sugar intakes."

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    Thirsty residents can take their drink bottles into any cafe on board with the scheme for a free water top up. Source: Facebook/ Refill NZ