Programme for Government 2021-2025 includes an action to develop a scheme between local authorities and Uisce Éireann to provide drinking water fountains nationwide with the aim of reducing plastic bottle litter.
The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage had made provisions in their budget for the development of a pilot scheme to provide water fountains in cooperation with local authorities and Uisce Éireann. A pilot fund of €50,000 for water fountains was made available in 2022. In August 2023, the Department provided the National Federation of Group Water Schemes with an additional €100,000 to continue the water fountain installation project. Across the group water schemes sector, 30 fountains have been installed, with an additional 16 planned by end 2023.
Refill.ie is supported by a network of funders and philanthropic organisation such as Rethink Ireland and local authorities. Set up in 2017, Refill.ie aims to have free drinking water access within 400m of our homes. Refill’s objective is to prevent unnecessary plastic waste in Ireland. Refill.ie assist organisations and groups install refill stations across the country. There are currently 1,600 stations and it is possible to find where they are by downloading The Tap Map.
A Coastwatch Ireland survey found approximately 3.9 discarded bottles in every 100m of Irish coastline in 2021. The Refill.ie website states that every day 220,000 single use plastic bottles of water are sold at a cost to the Irish population of about €100 million a year. The website states that by swapping single use plastic bottled water use to refill station water and individual can save €547 a year.
Approximately, 2 of every 3 plastic bottles are not recycled and this means they are likely to end up in landfill or as litter. Discarded plastic can take up to 500 years to degrade, potentially adding micro-plastics and nano-plastics to our waterways and food chains.
This Christmas why not consider buying friends and family a reusable water bottle and encourage them to reduce plastic use. Find out from your local authority or Refill.ie where the local refill station is or consider asking your local authority, refill.ie or your local Group Water Scheme to install a refill station near you?
Reducing plastic litter is good for our waterways, nature and most importantly our health.