Hospitality & Tourism

Published: July 3, 2022 | Updated: July 3, 2022

Turning the tide: 150+ free drinking water sites are part of campaign to tackle plastic pollution

Tourism brings in more than £1 billion to the BCP region’s economy annually.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Free drinking water is to be provided at more than 150 locations along the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole seafront in a bid to turn the tide on plastic pollution.

The sites include 18 seafront kiosks, over 130 beachfront taps and 15 new ‘hydration stations’.

BCP Council is working with environmental charity City to Sea to launch the initiative which coincides with the start of Plastic Free July.

Part of its Turning the Tides campaign, it’s aimed at cutting out the need to buy single-use plastic bottles.

As well as unveiling ‘free water for all’, the campaign will be delivering colourful artwork, performances and new signage to encourage visitors to be part of the ‘refill revolution’.

New artwork by renowned graffiti artist, Rick Walker Paint Shop, has been unveiled on the Lifeguard Corps building near Durley Chine.

It includes eco messaging such as ‘Join the Refill Revolution’ and features a range of ocean animals.

There is also a selfie area to engage passers-by with eco messaging about the ocean.

One-off pop-up events, art installations and performances will take place throughout Plastic Free July along the beachfront.

And a Refill app will show all the locations in the BCP area that offer plastic-free shopping and eating.

The total number of places to refill water bottles mapped on the app is to be doubled from 250 to more than 500 by this autumn.

The 15 hydration stations will have bold eye-catching artwork, tailored to different audiences.

As an example the beach tap near Happy Land Arcade will be themed with superhero messaging and movement-triggered superhero audio messaging.

It’s designed to engage young families who typically visit that section of beach.

All 130 beachfront taps will also be mapped meaning that all visitors will never be far away from a place to refill their water bottles for free.

Local businesses are also joining in offering free drinking water.

High street names such as Costa Coffee, Starbucks and McDonalds are all on board with the Refill campaign.

Cllr Mike Greene, pictured left, BCP Council’s Portfolio Holder for Sustainability and Transport, said: “Since our climate and emergency declaration in 2019, leading our communities towards a cleaner, more sustainable future that preserves our outstanding environment for years to come has been a priority for us.

“Offering free water refills, amongst other things, in order to cut out plastic pollution this summer will help to create a step change across our seafront.

“I’m keen to see everyone engaging with the refill stations as well as all the activities taking place this July to enable this to happen.”

The campaign follows research that showed 72 per cent of residents living in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole tended to buy more single-use plastic water bottles when visiting the beach.

One of the main reasons given by 31 per cent was that they couldn’t find, or didn’t know, where the nearest tap was.

Every Saturday throughout plastic-free July, performers will take to the beachfront to engage visitors with the campaign.

They’ll include newspaper sellers shouting ‘Refill all about it’ and musical performers, The Refreshers, who’ll be serenading beach visitors with songs written specifically for the campaign.

Jane Martin, pictured left, City to Sea’s Head of Development, said: “Try to hand out a leaflet with information on and people will walk in an arc to avoid you.

“Put on an engaging piece of street theatre of live music and people will naturally flock to see what’s happening.

“This is the basis for our work with BCP Council.

“The 15 miles of waterfront are going to be completely transformed this summer with new artwork, performances and, crucially, new infrastructure.

“This will mean free water for all is not just easier and cheaper, but also fun and engaging.

“Visitors will have a better time and our beaches will be left cleaner.”

The 18 BCP owned kiosks will also be offering significant discounts to anyone who brings their own reusable coffee cups.

Two BCP cafes are going a step further and trialling removing single-use coffee cups entirely.

The Sand Piper Café (West Beach) and the Fisherman Walk (Southbourne), will instead be offering customers hot drinks in returnable and reusable cups.

Customers will be required to pay a £1 deposit that will be refunded when they return the cup.

Customers who bring their own reusable cup will still receive the 20 per cent discount.

Cllr Mark Anderson, pictured right, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Place, BCP Council, said: “Last year, over 2,000 tonnes of rubbish was left on our beaches to be collected by our cleaning crews who work hard every day to ensure they remain spotless.

“We are proud of our award-winning blue flag beaches, but not the amount of rubbish that’s left on them, which is why this project is so important.

“We need to encourage behavioural change.

“Reducing the plastic pollution on our beaches by offering clear signage to the free tap water and refill stations will be crucial in reducing the amount of waste left on the beach at the end of the day.”

An additional 20 new bins have been specially designed for cigarette butts.

Single-use plastic cigarette filters feature consistently in the top 5 items found on UK beaches.

The bins will look to engage passers by asking provocative, but fun, questions that typically split opinion such as ‘Gravy on chips?’ with people given options to put a cigarette butt in either the ‘yummy’ box or ‘yuk’ box.

The ‘ballot bins’ have been shown to reduce littering by 46 per cent.

Cllr Beverley Dunlop, pictured left, Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Culture and Vibrant Places, BCP Council, said: “Tourism brings in excess of £1 billion to the BCP region to our economy every year, which is why it’s so important that our beaches remain clean and welcoming.

“These new hydration stations, alongside the refill app providing locations to refill water bottles for free, shows that we’re an eco-conscious holiday destination.”

“Working with City to Sea we’ve got some great activities planned along our seafront to promote Plastic Free July.

“I encourage everyone to come and enjoy a day at our wonderful beaches and embrace everything that is on offer.”