Sports fans return to refill at the Commonwealth Games to save over 430,000 plastic bottles in a week

The last week has provided not just thrilling sporting action at the Commonwealth Games, but also a significant breakthrough in the battle to cut single-use plastics.

As part of plans for the first carbon-neutral Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this year, Severn Trent and MIW, the UK’s largest provider of refill stations, have partnered to install the UK’s largest scale pop-up refill operation to date.

The response from avid sports fans has shown their resounding support for the environment, with refill counters indicating 430,920 plastic bottles1 have been saved in just a week.

MIW supplied 216 individual bottle-filling stations in blocks of four, eight or 12, tailored to suit 15 sports venues across the event, including NEC Arena, Sandwell Aquatics, Edgbaston and Coventry Stadium.

The eye-catching refill stations have been specially designed to grab the attention of the millions of sports fans attending the Games, encouraging them to stay hydrated in an environmentally friendly way. Each refill unit tracks how many bottles are saved, helping to measure progress towards the Game’s sustainability pledges.

38.5 million2 plastic bottles are bought in the UK daily, but only just over half are recycled, while 16m are put into landfill, burnt or littered into the environment and oceans each day. Plastic bottles can take up to 450 years3to break down once they reach the sea. Many of the popular bottled water brands consumed in the UK are transported hundreds of miles from their source, contributing to the 350,000 tonnes4 of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere every year by the bottled water industry in the UK.

The huge popularity of the refill stations at the Commonwealth Games is an encouraging sign of the return of the refill movement, after the Covid pandemic saw many people temporarily move back to single-use water bottles. Alongside the hygiene measures built into the bottle-filling units, MIW has recommended a strict cleaning regimen throughout the Games, putting safety alongside sustainability.

Ian Burdett, Head of Sales and Operations at MIW said: “At MIW, we are passionate about helping people to reduce their reliance on single-use plastics and so it’s wonderful to see so many spectators have been motivated to bring their own bottle to refill and actively participate in delivering the most sustainable Commonwealth Games ever. We’re thrilled this exciting partnership with Severn Trent has allowed us to play our part in the sustainable legacy of the Games and we hope it will be a catalyst in delivering real environmental improvements in future large-scale sporting events.”

  1. Based on digital readings from sampling of 64 out of 216 refill stations showing an average of 798 refills for the week to 3 August 2022 and observed flow rate of 2.5 x 500ml bottles filled for each 1 refill recorded on the counters: 216 stations x 798 refills recorded x 2.5 flow rate = 430,920 total bottles saved



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