BUSINESSES and tourist attractions in the Bay of Colwyn are joining a national campaign to rid the coast of plastic pollution.
Launched by Colwyn BID (Business Improvement District) the Refill Colwyn project has received support from across Mochdre, Rhos-on-Sea, Colwyn Bay and Old Colwyn.
Owners and managers in stores, pubs, banks, community centres, guest houses and cafes in the four towns are signing up to become Refill Stations so customers and visitors to the area can stop by and top-up their water containers for free, rather than having to buy another single-use plastic bottle.
The initiative has been a major success nationally, with participants simply placing a sticker or poster in their window to alert passers-by.
Colwyn BID Manager Cheryl Williams thanked all of the firms that have backed the appeal, and said: “We have been overwhelmed by the amount of businesses in the Bay of Colwyn who want to get involved and support what is not just a local, but a global issue.
“It is critical for people to get behind the campaign, especially here on the coast where we are fighting to keep our beaches clean, safe and free of plastic.”
Jo Carpenter, who owns The Natural Choice health store in Rhos-on-Sea with husband Johnny, has been campaigning against plastic pollution on the beaches of North Wales for years and is thrilled to see the scheme finally come to fruition.
“Thousands upon thousands of plastic bottles find their way onto landfill sites every day, and it has to stop,” said Jo.
“In the UK we are playing catch-up and must work harder to encourage more people to change their way of thinking and refill their water bottles. I would love it if every business in Rhos-on-Sea signed up as people should be able to fill up their water bottle anywhere.”
Tracey Toulmin of Bryn Woodlands House hotel in Colwyn Bay was in agreement, and said: “Every week we are recycling dozens of single-use plastic bottles, it’s unbelievable how many are left in the rooms.
“Since joining the scheme the response from guests and the public has been very positive, so we encourage other businesses to join us in supporting Refill Colwyn.”
City to Sea, a not-for-profit organisation headed by entrepreneur Natalie Fee, launched the award-winning Refill Scheme in 2015. Now being rolled out nationwide with full support of Welsh Government and water companies Dŵr Cymru and Hafren Dyfrdwy, it will substantially increase the availability of high-quality drinking water.
Hannah Osman, Refill Cymru Coordinator, said while many businesses already offer this simple service, few people often know about it.
“By letting people know they can look for Refill stickers or posters and be confident they can refill for free where they find one, Refill Colwyn is encouraging more people to take one small step away from relying on single use plastic bottles. It’s a really simple concept with a really big potential result.”
Lesley Griffiths, Welsh Government Environment Minister, added: “More Refill Stations along our coast will help reduce the number of plastic bottles ending up in the sea, which can have a devastating effect on our marine environment.
“This is another step towards my ambition of Wales becoming the World’s first ‘Refill Nation’.”
Colwyn BID has given every primary school pupil in the four towns a free bag containing a water bottle and this week launched a social media competition urging people to take a selfie or a photo of friends and family enjoying themselves in the Bay area using the hashtag #wearebayofcolwyn.
The best will win prizes, including tickets to Welsh Mountain Zoo, Colwyn Bay, and a gift from Be My Bear in Mochdre.
A survey, by One Poll commissioned by City to Sea, shows that 90% of people in Wales, compared to 85% in the UK as a whole, are worried about the impact of plastic pollution in the environment, and indicates that more people than ever are switching to reusable bottles.
66% of people in Wales surveyed now use a reusable bottle, at least sometimes, when outside the home.
Welsh reusable bottle users are a savvy bunch with a whopping 70% saying they have made the switch to save money.