DD2309 Plastic bottle reduction project-installing fountains, phase 2

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Date signed: 
17 January 2019
Decision by: 
Lucy Owen, Interim Executive Director of Development, Enterprise and Environment

Executive summary

The plastic bottle reduction project aims to cut single-use plastic drink bottles by increasing capacity of and access to tap water refilling infrastructure in London. The project has already partnered with Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to set up the London Drinking Fountain Fund (LDFF). The first phase has selected and confirmed and offered funding to install 20 drinking water fountains at sites across London. 18 fountains have been installed so far with the remaining two due to be installed by the end of January 2019. The GLA has already contributed £50,000 towards an LDFF which has funded these 20 fountains. As part of the application and site selection process, an additional 8 locations have applied for a drinking water fountain. Our project partner, ZSL, have been managing the delivery of the LDFF and are able to proceed with the additional eight fountains being installed if funds are secured.

This DD is requesting the GLA grant further funds to ZSL of £41,837 to contribute to ZSL’s costs of fountains, installation and project management of all 28 fountains, the previous £50,000 having been approved under cover of ADD2217.


That the Executive Director of Development, Enterprise and Environment approves the:

1. Award of an additional £41,837 to Zoological Society of London (ZSL) as a contribution to its costs of the purchase, installation of a further 8 fountains (in addition to the 20 originally funded); and

2. Variation of the GLA’s funding agreement with ZSL in this regard.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

This DD seeks approval to provide additional grant funding of up £41,837 (taking the total funding to £91,837) to the Zoological Society London (ZSL) as a contribution to ZSL’s costs for installing a total of 28 water fountains across London (fountains, installation and project management costs). £50,000 was approved under cover of ADD2217 for 20 drinking water fountains. The second phase, to install an extra eight drinking water fountains, does not have any match funding and the GLA therefore, take on the full costs. This will help meet proposals in the London Environment Strategy, shape and support GLA policy and effect the reduction of single use plastic bottles,

The increase of the funding, from £50,000 to £91,837, to ZSL will provide more public drinking water fountains and contribute towards delivering the Mayor’s London Environment Strategy polices and proposals to reduce the usage of single-use plastic bottles.

Previous approvals related to this piece of work:

• MD2137 Environment Team Work Programme 2017-18
• ADD2193 Plastic bottle reduction and water refill project resources.
• ADD2195 Water Refill Pilot Scheme
• ADD2217 Plastic bottle reduction project- installing fountains


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 form one of the most prevalent form 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% 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 London Environment Strategy (LES) sets out proposals to reduce single-use plastic bottles by improving access to drinking tap water. In the strategy, the Mayor calls on food and drink businesses to offer incentives for their customers to use their own reusable water bottles and commits the Mayor to work with partners to install more water drinking fountains. The LES also seeks to take the following actions to reduce the number of plastic bottles:

• Pilot water refill schemes in different areas of London to test their effectiveness for improving access to tap water. The GLA will work with City to Sea, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), and other partners to use the insights from the pilots to inform the roll out of a London-wide water refill scheme;
• Work with ZSL’s #OneLess campaign to install 20 drinking water fountains as an initial pilot
• Provide funding over three years to fund the installation of more drinking water fountains and behaviour change campaigns to drive a water refill culture;
• Require new major public realm developments to install water fountains in appropriate locations
• Work with Transport for London and Network Rail to identify suitable locations in the transport network to be refill points;
• Lead by example across the GLA group by phasing out plastic bottle sales, removing single use plastics in cafes and facilities, and improving access to tap water on all GLA premises
• Work with the supply chain, from manufacturers to retailers, and large employers to waste authorities, to roll out measures to cut the impact of single-use coffee cups, such as increasing recycling facilities, or supporting initiatives to increase use of reusable cups; and
• Work with partners to trial a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles and other commonly recycled materials in London, while government decides what it will do at a national level.

ZSL have been pioneering a campaign called #OneLess which aims to help reduce the number of single-use plastic bottles in London. The campaign has a collaboration of companies, groups and organisations who all share the same objectives. Under the first phase of the London Drinking Fountain Fund, ZSL were granted £35,000 by a water fountain company (MIW) and £50,000 from the GLA (total £85,000) for the first 20 drinking water fountains in London to support the reduction of single-use plastic bottles. To date, 18 of these fountains have been installed across London. Initial data has shown their effectiveness at providing free water refills, and in turn reducing the need for single-use water bottles. The fountains in Kingly Court dispensed the equivalent of 16,000 standard 500ml water bottles in one month, and Liverpool Street Station reported dispensing equivalent of 30,000 from July to October.

The development of the wider programme of fountain installation that the GLA is supporting in partnership with Thames Water in 2019-21 has benefitted from the lessons learned throughout the ZSL pilot programme. By extending the pilot from 20 to 28 fountains it also means that there will be a continuing programme of fountain installations in early 2019 in the run-up to the launch of the first of the Mayor of London / Thames Water fountains which is scheduled for the spring.

The Mayor has now allocated £2.75m funding to roll out more drinking water fountains and reduce plastics in London. The additional funding in respect of which this decision is sought (£41,378) will come from the Mayor’s £2.75m plastic reduction project fund.

The installation of 28 drinking water fountains offer value for money, at an average cost of £3,265 per fountain, due to the support-in-kind from MIW and ZSL, as applicants have covered the majority of the installation costs, and applicants are also responsible for the fountains’ ongoing maintenance and cleaning.

Objectives and expected outcomes

The high-level objectives of the work the GLA is undertaking in this area are to:

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

The objectives of the ‘plastic bottle reduction project: installation of drinking water fountains project’ are to:

• Test and learn how to build a drinking water fountain network in London;
• Find strategic locations to install drinking water fountains to get the most impact at reducing single-use plastic bottles;
• Monitor, measure and evaluate how many water refills the fountains are providing; and
• Produce best practice guidance which will inform a wider roll out of a water refill scheme across London.

The expected outcomes are:

• A total of 28 water fountains to be installed across London by the spring of 2019;
• A good understanding of how to roll out more water fountains across London; and
• Reduction in single-use plastic bottles.

Equality comments

Under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, as a public authority, the Mayor of London must have ‘due regard’ of the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well as to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who have a protected characteristic and those who do not.

The drinking fountains programme outlined in this DD stems from the policies and proposals in the London Environment Strategy which has been informed by a full Integrated Impact Assessment, including a consideration of equalities.

Projects delivered through the drinking fountains delivery programme will continue to engage as many Londoners as possible to help to meet the needs of people sharing protected characteristics under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.

The project’s ambition is to make free drinking water available to all Londoners. The project team, in consultation with representatives from across the GLA, are steering the plastic reduction project to ensure equalities and diversity are considered. The desired outcomes of the project will help provide a healthy and free alternative to sugary drinks.

Other considerations

The LES has specific policies and proposals to reduce single use packaging:


  • Policy 7.1.1 The Mayor will set waste reduction targets for the city as a whole, and work with Londoners, waste authorities, government and other stakeholder to significantly cut waste and boost material reuse.


  • Proposal 7.1.1b The Mayor will support campaigns and initiatives to cut the use of single use packaging


Risk description

Mitigation actions

Finding suitable locations difficult due to access to required utilities.

Location have already been identified in the application process under phase one of the London Drinking Fountain Fund.  

Slow installation due to land ownership permission being granted


Phase one has already identified ‘blockers’ to delivery. This phase will use lessons learnt and the funding agreement milestones to help mitigate delays

Hygiene issues of the public using the drinking water fountains – miss use etc.

Part of the agreement between ZSL and the applicants for water fountains is that the recipient has a hygienic cleaning regime in place.

Financial comments

Director’s approval is sought for expenditure of £41,837 for grant funding ZSL to cover the installation costs of 28 water fountains. £14,669 of this grant funding will be revenue and £27,168 will be capital grant to fund capital costs such as fountains, pipes and drainage works. The revenue and capital split will be confirmed when ZSL costs are finalised and the conversion from revenue to capital will be made accordingly.

The delivery of this work will be completed in 2018-19 and the Environment team’s 2018-19 budget for plastic bottle reduction will fund this grant.

Activity table



Variation to current funding agreement

Jan 2019

Delivery Start Date

Jan 2019

Final evaluation

Q1 2019

Delivery End Date

Before end March 2019

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