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Auckland businesses challenged to join the ‘refillution’

Auckland businesses are being challenged to join the ‘refillution’ this Plastic Free July by becoming official RefillNZ stations.

Wai Auckland and RefillNZ are encouraging cafes, bars, restaurants, retailers and other businesses to register as official ‘RefillNZ Stations’ - places where people are welcome to stop in and refill their reusable water bottles for free, no questions asked.

Wai Auckland project manager and registered nutritionist Amanda Brien says Wai Auckland and RefillNZ joined forces in May to promote tap water as the first and easy choice for people.

"New Zealanders consume an estimated 221 cans of sugary soft drink per person each year, and nearly one in ten children consume a sugary drink daily. That’s contributing to rotten teeth and other health issues," Ms Brien says. "We have the third highest obesity rate in the OECD, and it’s climbing; one in three adults and one in eight children in Aotearoa are obese.

"For us, Plastic Free July is about encouraging people to choose tap water and reusable water bottles, a move that’s good for their health, good for the planet and good for their wallets."

Ms Brien says a number of Auckland Council libraries, leisure centres and community centres are already preparing to come on board.

"We’re asking Auckland businesses to do the same. Ultimately, we want to have 1000 RefillNZ Stations across the region, so we’re hoping Plastic Free July will help give us a kick start towards that goal."

RefillNZ founder Jill Ford says that, on average, New Zealanders each use 168 plastic bottles annually, but only a third of them are recycled. That means around 526 million are thrown away each year, often ending up in our oceans.

"We know that Auckland’s tap water is clean and great quality, so we need to make the most of the amazing natural resource we have, rather than increasing waste and pollution," Ms Ford says.

"We want to disrupt the current social norm and make it easy and convenient for people to carry a reusable bottle and refill it on the go for free. For the cost of one litre of bottled water, you can get around 6,000 glasses of tap water, so we know it makes financial sense."

Amanda Brien says more refill stations will also help to supplement Auckland’s 350 public drinking water fountains, making it easy for people to access tap water wherever they are.

"At Wai, we’re also looking at digital tools to help Aucklanders find drinking fountains more easily and ways to make more fountains available across the region."

And Jill Ford says registering as a RefillNZ Station makes good business sense too.

"Being a RefillNZ Station demonstrates to customers that not only does the business care about the environment and the health of their customers, but that they’re willing to take action.

"RefillNZ Stations often experience increased foot traffic, resulting in new customers and more sales."

Businesses keen to become RefillNZ Stations should complete the form on the RefillNZ website, refillnz.org.nz. They’ll receive stickers and posters to help the public identify them, and be added to the ‘Where to Refill’ map on the website. The process is free in Auckland and Wellington, and just $17 outside of these areas to cover postage and handling.

There are currently around 300 RefillNZ Stations nationwide.


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