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Refill Essex – an initiative which allows people to fill up their reusable bottles with tap water for free at cafes, restaurants, bars and other businesses for free – is off to a great start, with around 200 Refill stations already signed up across the county.

Refill is a national tap water campaign led by plastic pollution campaign group City to Sea, which encouraged people to ditch single plastic bottles and carry a reusable bottle instead. The Refill Essex scheme is being delivered by Essex & Suffolk Water in collaboration with the Essex Waste Partnership.

Local businesses are encouraged to get involved by signing up on the Refill app, and putting a sticker in their window to alert passers-by that they are welcome to fill up their bottles for free. The free Refill app will also let people know where their nearest Refill station is while they are on the move.

The Refill Essex campaign had its official launch in Brentwood in June, where local residents flocked to Essex & Suffolk Water’s community engagement vehicle, ‘Flo’, to find out more and take part in games and giveaways. The Only Way is Essex stars Lockie and Miles even dropped in to find out more about Refill!

A passionate group of local volunteers have been working hard to bring Refill to Brentwood, and have already signed up 30 local businesses as Refill stations around the town.

Refill also launched in Chelmsford in September, with local MP Vicky Ford joining the fun and pitching in to help sign up Refill stations.

The Essex Wildlife Trust is also supporting the Refill campaign, and you can now top up with tap water at nine of their visitor centres across the county, including the centres at Hanningfield and Abberton Reservoirs, which are run in partnership with Essex & Suffolk Water.

Another big year of Refill Essex is already being planned for 2019, and the scheme will officially launch in January. However, local businesses don’t need to hang around if they want to get involved and show their commitment to reducing plastic waste – they can’t sign up on the Refill app right now.