Ecosurety continue to step up for refill and reuse

Working at Ecosurety for the past five years, my proudest moments have come from collaborating with those just as passionate about driving change towards a more environmentally and socially sustainable world as us.

As a team, we seize every opportunity to stand up, vote with our feet and have our voice heard when it comes to doing the right thing for our planet. To celebrate World Refill Day this month, I am delighted to have been doing just that!

Joining City to Sea to call for legally binding reuse targets

We’re proud to work with local charity City to Sea, who work tirelessly to combat plastic pollution through campaigning and community initiatives. City to Sea utilised this World Refill Day (and General Election campaign window) to reflect on what really must be done within the UK to push towards a more circular economy, and then to call for it – launching their Reuse Manifesto earlier this year.

Their open letter - which Ecosurety, amongst other influential businesses and individuals, proudly put our name to - called for legally binding, timebound reuse targets.

This is key - all the packaging recycling in the world won’t make as much of a difference as avoiding this waste in the first place. What is one way to do this? Reuse and refill!

Whilst we acknowledge that there is a vast amount of work to implement and influence (I’m sure we’ve all at one point or another forgotten our lovely refillable bottle and had to grab plastic on our way to work), there’s actually a very simple solution. Weren’t our grandparents all taking their own bags and containers down to their grocery stores before single use plastic and convenience became the ‘in’ thing?

This vast amount of work won’t be achieved without government not only backing, but enforcing refillable and reusable packaging, which is why we, along with 35 other non-government organisations and celebrity ambassadors have signed City to Sea’s open letter.

But it didn’t stop there. On 11 June 2024, five days before World Refill Day, a group of us marched in London, visiting the headquarters of the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, and Labour parties to ensure our message was delivered. For you step counters out there, this was a walk of about four miles. It gave me ample time to get to know the City to Sea team, as well as colleagues from Reposit, Ocean Bottle, Fill and other companies striving to make refill and reuse the norm when it comes to fast moving consumer goods.

Our letters were accepted by two out of three representatives from the parties, with one telling us the letter needed to be posted for their attention. We now read the manifestos keenly, and quiz our local representatives, to see what the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties are proposing around sustainability targets, and if reuse and refill will get the attention it deserves and is receiving in the EU. Watch this space - we will be.

Practising what we preach

Making sure I don’t hoard all the refill and reuse fun for myself, I launched a friendly competition amongst my colleagues to ensure we’re all walking the walk when it comes to refill.

We are incredibly fortunate to be in the middle of such a thriving and innovative city in Bristol, made up of independent businesses and consumers who really do want to have a positive impact on our immediate and wider environment.

I challenged our team to go out and about, finding, and buying, prefilled and refilled goods in the following categories:

  • Cold drinks
  • Hot drinks
  • Personal care
  • Home care
  • Dry goods

The team have taken to the challenge like a hot coffee to a reusable flask. I’ve heard of so many shops recently I wasn’t even aware of, and colleagues have shared their refilled goods in the form of milk, coffee beans and balsamic vinegar. Points are accrued for various refillable goods with additional kudos for ‘innovation’ (we’ve not yet had someone try and get a coffee poured into their shoe but there’s still time), and the competition is heating up!

Our goal is to have a directory of local, independent refill places available to really drive this change and really continue to champion our local community.

Bristol Refill Return Cup scheme

There are many colleagues who had a head start in our refill competition, as they were instrumental in our work with City to Sea on their Refill Return Cup scheme launch in Bristol for World Refill Day last year. This pilot was an exciting and effective four month initiative, where consumers could put a deposit down on a refillable cup in one of the partner coffee shops in Bristol, drink, refill and return within the network. We are so proud to have been a part of not only supporting and shouting about refill, but doing so in and with a community which we love so much. The pilot finished in October 2023 but the Refill Return Cup is currently live across Bath Spa University campuses and City to Sea hope to activate it in more areas soon.

The supermarket’s the limit!

We certainly aren’t stopping at coffee. Refill is the way towards a circular economy and sustainable future, and we will be continuing to research and shout about refill and reuse projects until they’re common practice. We’re hoping that will be sooner rather than later.

Our Director of Innovation and Policy, Robbie Staniforth, was able to attend the Refill Coalition open day at Aldi, in Solihull. The store showcased a modular system to refill dried goods, with option to bring your own container or pick one up as you shop. Robbie heralded it as a potential ‘turnkey solution for UK retailers’, as well as making it look incredibly easy to use in his demonstration video. Being able to make visits like this shows us progress is being made and it can be done – and we are excited to support this shift.

We're here to help!

If you, your company or connections are making any movements in the reuse and refill space which you would like to discuss with us, or think we might be able to support, please get in touch. In the meantime, we’ll be continuing to lobby UK government and push for consumer behaviour change to prove refill and reuse can and will work.

To find out more about City to Sea and their campaigns to stop plastic pollution at sources visit their website.

Written by Victoria Baker Published 24/06/2024 Topics Ecosurety
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