In a bid to reduce plastic bottle use, Pret encourages customers (and passers-by) to ‘fill up for free’ at any of its 250 filtered water fountains. Self-service water stations have been rolled out around the country to help remove the barrier of asking for a refill, with one in five feeling uncomfortable asking even when they’ve made a purchase.
Research commissioned by Refill in 2018* found that one in three adults in the UK (34%) felt uncomfortable asking for a reusable bottle to be filled at a restaurant or café when they hadn’t bought anything. One in five (19%) still felt uncomfortable asking even when they had made a purchase. The installation of filtered water fountains is designed to address this concern, allowing people to refill their water bottles without worrying about asking.
To make it even easier for customers and passers-by to find their closest filtered water point, Pret is now signed up to Refill – a nationwide campaign to prevent plastic pollution at source by making it easier to reuse and refill a water bottle on the go. The location-based app connects users with businesses, transport hubs and public spaces where they can fill up for free, wherever they are.
Director of Strategy & Sustainability, Laura Gutowski, comments, “Although we already offered drinking water on request at all of our shops, we know that behaviour is most likely to change if we can enable people to fill up themselves, rather than having to ask a team member at the counter. We have installed filtered water fountains in all of our shops with enough space front of house. The fountains are easy to spot, and we want everyone – not just Pret customers – to feel able to come in and fill up for free without hesitation.
“If each of our water stations is used just 10 times a day, we could save around a million plastic bottles a year, and that for us is great motivation to continue rolling them out.”
A further 90 Pret shops have free filtered water available behind the counter, where customers and passers-by can ask Pret team members to refill their reusable water bottles. In these shops, it is not operationally possible to install fountains.
35 more units are planned for installation later this year, making free filtered water available in over 95% of Pret shops. Drinking water is already available close by to the remaining shops.