Twenty new water fountains are to be installed in London’s public parks and squares this year as a part of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans for a more sustainable London.
The initiative was announced by Mr. Khan on 23rd January as one of the measures in part of his £750,000, three-year plan to cut down plastic waste in London.
A survey by YouGov and Keep Britain Tidy from May 2017 revealed that 70% of people agreed that tap water should be more freely available, and 59% said they would be more likely to reuse a water bottle if they could easily fill it in shops, parks and other locations.
The Mayor hopes that in providing greater access to free water for refills that more people will transition to using refillable bottles, instead of buying water when out.
According to the Guardian, 38.5 million plastic bottles are used in the UK every day and only about half of these make it to recycling. Research by the Ellen McArthur Foundation estimated that by the year 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish.
Prime Minister Theresa May has said that for many people Blue Planet II has been instrumental in highlighting “the need for us to do something” about single-use plastics.
When accepting the Impact Award on behalf of the show at the National Television Awards on 23rd January, Sir David Attenborough stated that “what we were all trying to do is raise an issue that is of great importance to not only this country but worldwide”.
A spokesperson for Mr. Khan said that “The Mayor wants to see a reduction in the amount of single-use plastic bottles and cups across the capital”.
To support this initiative, he also plans to trial a scheme that encourages businesses to make their tap water available to the public. It is already a legal requirement for UK businesses to provide free tap water on request, however, this initiative aims to remove the stigma of asking for water even if a person is not purchasing anything from the business.
Tackling single-use plastics is the latest aspect of Khan’s Environmental Strategy for London, which is tasked with ensuring “that London is greener, cleaner and ready for the future”.
LSE has a similar approach to sustainability as the Mayor’s new plan, currently providing 63 water fountains across campus. There is also a 10p levy on bottled water sold at campus outlets, which is contributed to the LSE Sustainable Projects Fund.