ADD2195 Water refill scheme pilot

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Date signed: 
01 February 2018
Decision by: 
Patrick Feehily, Assistant Director, Environment

Executive summary

This ADD seeks approval to spend up to £25,000 on external services for the delivery, monitoring and evaluation of a water refill pilot scheme in London.
The pilot would run in up to five areas.  It would enable a better understanding of the impact a full-scale initiative might have on the use of single-use plastic bottles and provide insight into the opportunities to expand the pilot and the mechanisms for doing so.  The evaluation of the pilot would also provide the GLA with information on the scheme’s participants/audience and demographic barriers to participation, and the experience of businesses and the community. 


That the Assistant Director of Environment approves spend of up to £25,000 on external services for the delivery, monitoring and evaluation of a water refill pilot scheme in London.


Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.    Introduction and background

This ADD seeks approval to spend up to £25,000 in procuring pilot studies for a water refill scheme in London.

Previous approvals related to this piece of work: 
MD2137 Environment Team Work Programme 2017-18 
ADD2193 Plastic bottle reduction and water refill project resources.

1.1    Introduction

Plastic blights our streets, finds its way into oceans harming wildlife and takes centuries to break down whilst releasing toxic chemicals. Single use plastic bottles are one of the most prevalent forms of plastic packaging in our oceans. Waste and Resources Action Programme’s (WRAP) plastic market situation report estimated the UK uses around 825,000 tonnes of plastic bottles a year. This leads to around 125,000 tonnes used in London.  It is estimated that 25 per cent of plastics are recycled by London waste authorities. 

A recent report by the London Assembly estimates that around one billion plastic bottles are used in London each year, however, the household recycling stream only collects a small proportion of this because most consumption happens ‘on the go’.

The Mayor’s draft London Environment Strategy (LES) sets out proposals to reduce single use plastic bottles by “working with stakeholders including environment groups, Transport for London and LWARB to improve access to tap water through community water refill schemes building on existing schemes”. The strategy 
also calls on food and drink businesses to offer incentives for their customers to use their own reusable water bottles. This supports the delivery of policy 7.1.1 in the draft LES, to significantly cut London’s waste.                                                                                                                                                                                                             
To help meet proposals in the LES, shape GLA policy and reduce single use plastic bottles, we wish to procure the delivery, monitoring and evaluation of a water refill scheme for the pilot areas. Dependent on the success of the pilots, the outcomes of these pilot studies will inform wider roll out of water refill scheme across the capital. 

Objectives and expected outcomes

The objectives of the GLA’s overall work on single-use plastic bottles are to:

    Reduce the environmental impact, including resource use and pollution, of single use plastic bottles in London, particularly single use plastic water bottles.
    Increase access to tap (potable) water available to Londoners when ‘on the go’, particularly as an alternative to unhealthier sugary drinks.

The objectives of this proposed ‘water refill scheme pilot’ project are to:

    Build a water refill network in up to five pilot areas to test the impact of this scheme for reducing single-use plastic bottles.
    Through marketing, social media and direct forms of engagement, recruit businesses to become/provide water refill stations.. 
    Monitor, measure and evaluate the five pilot areas by the end of May 2018.
    Produce best practice guidance which will inform a wider roll out of a water refill scheme across London. 

The expected outcomes are to;

Build and launch a refill network in five pilot areas. This will include:
    A water refill app
    Local coordination and business outreach to recruit local businesses to offer free water refills in the agreed five water refill pilot areas.
    GLA approved marketing materials for businesses and communities (for example, information packs and window stickers).

Measure, monitor and evaluate the five pilot water refill areas. This will include:
    An agreed methodology to measure, monitor and evaluate the five pilot water refill areas
    A final evaluation report, 

Equality comments

The project will assess the success, opportunities and barriers of a water refill scheme across London. The impact of policies on equality considerations will be considered as part of the pilot project.  

The implementation group, which is cross cutting across the GLA, are steering the procurement specification to ensure equalities and diversity are considered. 

The desired outcomes of the project will help businesses in London provide a healthy and free alternative to sugary drinks.  

Other considerations


A minimum of three quotes will be sought through a competitive tendering process seeking to secure value for money


A plastic bottle reduction group has been established. This consists of a Project Board who is the ultimate decision-making body for programmes of work to reduce single use plastics. It will provide political and policy steer as required, and delegation of any tasks in the agreed project plans. Board members are as follows: 

    Dr Nick Bowes.
    Shirley Rodrigues (Chair).
    Val Shawcross.
    Leah Kreitzman.
    Leah Davis.

A cross department officer implementation group has been established to provide advice, policy input, validity of project work and deliver project outcomes as agreed by the Project Board. The governance structure, terms of reference and the proposal for the water refill scheme pilot project have been agreed by the Project Board (meeting 12th December 2017).

The Mayor’s draft London Environment Strategy (LES) has specific policies and proposals to reduce single use packaging:

    Policy 7.1.1 The Mayor will work with Londoners, waste authorities, government and other stakeholders to significantly cut waste 
    Proposal 7.1.1b The Mayor will support campaigns and initiatives to cut the use of single use packaging


Risk description

Mitigation actions

Pilot studies do not get enough businesses to sign up to make an impact

GLA officers will support the pilots. Firstly, identifying local partners who have established business and community links. Secondly by using established GLA contacts with chain stores to secure participation

Sufficient promotion does not gain enough consumer participation



Implementation group to steer marketing opportunities.


Local partners in pilot areas to have an established communication network.

Evaluation of delivery does not conclude that a London wide programme is deliverable

As part of wider research to reduce plastic bottles, a number of options are being evaluated with different funding and delivery models to provide a number of potential delivery routes.



Financial comments

Assistant Director’s approval is sought for expenditure up to £25,000 for the procurement and appointment of a delivery partner for pilot studies for a water refill scheme in London. The cost of this is to be funded from the Environment Team’s 2017-18 and 2018-19 Waste budget. Approximately £10,000 of expenditure will be spent in 2017-18 and £15,000 in 2018-19.


Planned delivery approach and next steps




Procurement of contract


Announcement [if applicable]


Delivery Start Date


Main milestones


Main milestones


Final evaluation: start and finish

01.05.18 – 14.05.18

Delivery End Date


Project Closure



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