World Refill Day 2022

World Refill Day is a global public awareness campaign designed to accelerate the transition away from single-use plastic and towards reuse systems. We’ve been running and scaling Refill Day in the UK since 2018 and last year, with the push back against reusables we saw around the world from retailers and governments as a result of COVID-19, we knew we needed to mobilise a global movement to get plastic pollution back on the agenda. 

This year – only the second time we’ve run the campaign as a global initiative – we generated over 400+ pieces of media coverage and reached millions of people around the world, centring the conversation and positioning reuse as a solution to the plastic crisis.

Together with our partners and supporters, we’re building an unstoppable global movement of everyday activists, NGOs and sustainable businesses uniting behind a shared message that we need to see action on plastics and reuse is the solution. Here’s what went down on June 16th.

At a glance

  • We saw actions happening in over 90 countries around the world from Japan, to Ecuador, to Portugal.
  • Refill Japan launched National Refill Week in Japan with events, media engagement and activation peaking for World Refill Day.
  • Zero Waste Europe published a policy briefing as part of its #GetBack campaign highlighting the difference between as Packaging Reuse vs. Packaging Waste Prevention.
  • Break Free From Plastic Change Makers met with the US Department for the Interior to demand a more rapid for their commitment to phase out 100% single-use plastic.
  • City to Sea with partner and headline sponsor Chilly’s hosted a World Refill Day celebration event at the TATE Modern in London, providing an opportunity for key stakeholders in the involved in the refill and reuse movement here in the UK to connect, network and celebrate.
  • The National Trust Wales and the Wales Coast path marked World Refill Day by teaming up with Welsh artist Rachel Shiamh to create an incredible piece of sand art to inspire people encouraging everyone who visits the beautiful Welsh beaches & countryside to leave no trace and help keep Wales plastic-free.
  • World Refill Day Headline Sponsor Chilly’s Bottles launched a corporate call out campaign of their own, targeting three of the biggest water brands, asking them to consider reusable packaging for their products.
  • World Refill Sponsor Ecover gave away FREE Refills on June 16th in the UK to help more people experience refill and reuse.
  • This resulted in over 400 pieces of media coverage reaching MILLIONS of people around the world.
  • Our hashtag #WorldRefillDay was trending on Twitter and was using by more than 16,000 people around the world – by everyone from politicians to astronauts and activists, from and campaigners to celebrities.
  • Our 500,000 video views of our World Refill Day launch film.
  • We now have over 430,000 Refill app downloads helping more people find places to eat, drink and shop with less waste.
  • In June we more than doubled the number of people using the app reaching a total of 30,000 users. There were also 16,000 NEW downloads in June – a 61% increase on 2021. 33% of app users in June were outside of the UK, and the app was used in 117 countries.
  • 3,000+ downloads of the Campaign Toolkit

Calling out the Big Polluters

A global coalition of over 400 global organisations, including Greenpeace, The Women’s Institute and The Muslim Council of Britain signed our open letter that demanded that the five companies named as the biggest plastic polluters commit to ‘transparent, ambitious and accountable reuse and refill systems’.  The letter called on the 5 biggest plastic polluters; Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle, Unilever, and Procter & Gamble to tackle their plastic pollution impact by switching from single-use to affordable and accessible refillable and reusable packaging.

Through Plastic-Free July, we will be following up with corporations who responded and naming those who have failed to respond to this global coalition. Watch this space!

New Research

We released new research in the UK that showed how that the cost-of-living crisis is making it harder for consumers to make sustainable purchasing decisions and avoid single-use plastic, despite plastics still being a big concern for 95% of people surveyed.  The new, independent, showed that sustainability is falling down the priority list for consumers, with cost coming out on top; 48% of Brits report changing where they shop or what they buy in the last six months, and 60% saying they now have to prioritise cost over any other criteria. On the back of this we demanded that supermarkets and big brands did more to support customers looking to ditch single-use plastics by making sure all reusable options are affordable and accessible.

London’s Calling

We teamed up with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to highlight the 4,000+ Refill Stations across London with a big social media and outdoor advertising campaign across the capital, and to unveil a series of new fountains for World Refill Day. This was timely as the capital was a smouldering 30 degrees on World Refill Day! To support this, we launched some separate polling that revealed just how many single-use plastic water bottles Londoners. This showed that Londoners said they consumed a MASSIVE 1 billion single-use plastic bottles a year. With 71% of Londoners buying at least one bottle a week and 14% of saying they purchased at least 1 single-use plastic water bottle every single day. The good news was that the same research also suggested 63% of people in London have said they would stop buying bottled water if there was guaranteed access to free tap water and opportunities to fill up a reusable water bottle and over 90% of Londoners reported already sometimes or always carrying a reusable water bottle. 
Delivering more water fountains in London and ensuring that our shops and cafes offer free tap water is an important part of my work to help Londoners easily make small changes that will have a big environmental impact. That’s why, on World Refill Day, I’m delighted that more than 100 drinking fountains have been installed in the capital to help more Londoners top up their reusable bottles to do their bit for the environment. In addition to the fountains, there are now over 4,000 cafes, restaurants and pubs offering free refills across the city through Refill London.
Sadiq Khan

Mayor of London

Coffee Cups

Here in our home city of Bristol we announced a Bristol borrow and return reusable cup scheme pilot that will be kicking off in Autumn 2022. This scheme will allow coffee lovers to borrow a cup from their favourite coffee shop and return it to other cafes around the city. This cup scheme, once it’s up and running, will save 250,000 cups from landfill EVERY SINGLE DAY!

Big Water

Our partners Chilly’s have supported World Refill Day right from the start and this year they really up’d the ante. Together we called out companies like Evian, Fiji Water and Highland Spring (“big water” as we dubbed them) and the environmental damage their packaging does and asked them to reimagine a reusable alternative. Our amigos at Chillys sent them mock ups of what their bottles would look like as reusables and took out some MASSIVE adverts around London!

Around the world

Schemes across the UK

In towns and cities all across the UK our Refill Schemes reached out to their communities and bought World Refill Day to life. Just a few examples include:

    • Refill Swindon, was relaunched with its new committee engaging businesses, MPs and providing Refill information to local schools and parish councils! Phew!
    • Refill Hertfordshire launched six Refill and Go trails across Dacorum local authority.
    • Keep Lancing Lovely celebrated with a Refill stall along the beachfront, encouraging residents to Reuse their water bottles and refill at the seafront fountains.
    • Refill Henley relaunched in the Town Square under the stewardship of local resident Julia Carey with support from Councillor Sarah Miller, securing coverage in both the Henley Herald and Henley Standard
    • The Low Carbon team at Sunderland City Council launched their commitment to the global Refill movement with comprehensive coverage in My Sunderland.

Together we are powerful

We believe that the transition away from single-use plastic and towards reuse systems is essential in tackling the climate and plastics emergencies we face. World Refill Day is about building the community to make this transition happen. And we need you to be part of it. For when millions of us act, together, we are powerful. When this action is reflected into corporate policies or government legislation, we aren’t just powerful, we are change makers.

World Refill Day is made possible thanks to the funding and support of our official sponsors and the hundreds  of organisations that got involved around the world.

Inspired to take action? Here are 3 easy things you can do today!

  1. Download the Refill app
  2. Buy yourself a Refill X Chillys water bottle
  3. Share this blog
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