Trust aims to reduce single-use bottled water sales
Water bottle being filled at the new stations.

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) has launched a new initiative to reduce single-use water bottles.

To encourage greater use of reusable drinks vessels, MFT has installed hydration stations at two high-footfall locations that dispense free water refills for visitors and staff using their own reusable drinks vessel.

This initiative, the first dispensing unit of its kind in the UK's public sector, was made possible through a collaboration between MFT, Honest, designer of the first reusable bottle made in the UK from locally-sourced single-use bottles, and MFT's facilities management partner, Sodexo.

Damian Sleep, Business Director at Sodexo Health & Care, said: "We are committed to doing all we can to reduce the use of single-use plastics and this new initiative will help encourage visitors and staff to move away from buying single-use bottled water to reduce the amount of plastic in circulation.

This will only be successful if we make it easy to refill bottles and create long-term behavioural change by increasing the uptake of reusables so that we can then eliminate the sale of single-use plastic water bottles.  This change represents a pioneering move on a site that typically has around 15,000 people on it daily".

Honest sales and marketing manager, Georgia Bell, said that each 500ml water refill eradicates, on average, 12g of single-use plastic. 

She said: "During the six months that the hydration stations have been in use, almost 50kg of plastic waste has been avoided.

Considering that more than 2.5 billion units of bottled water are sold through UK retail outlets each year, there is an opportunity to eradicate 34,000 tonnes of single-use plastic, providing that water refill stations are in greater abundance than they are today. This is one small step that will facilitate this change."

These unique hydration stations are located in main atriums of the Royal Manchester Children's' Hospital and St Mary's Hospital. 

Both units dispense free tap water with the option to upgrade to triple filtered super chilled water, starting at a charge of £0.45, or carbonated water for £0.55, thereby serving ‘bottled water quality' but without the single-use plastic waste.

The stations will also provide the opportunity to purchase an Honest Bottle - the UK's most sustainable reusable bottle which is made from UK sourced, post-consumer recycled single-use bottles and easily recyclable end of life - if the customer does not have a suitable vessel to hand.