The huge media exposure given to the plastic crisis over the past 12 months has given birth to a range of new ideas and measures to reduce both production and waste. Across the UK we've banned plastic cotton buds, hid and replaced plastic straws, introduced deposit return schemes and even forced tea companies and crisp manufacturers to rethink their packaging choices.
Quite a lot of movement in the short space of a year, considering the lack of action on plastic pollution for so long. It's amazing what some mainstream media exposure can do to propel an issue into the front of everyone's conscious.
The raft of measures to tackle plastic waste has triggered the revival of public water fountains with London leading the way by installing 20 new fountains over the summer and now following up with a proposal to install 100 new drinking taps across the city by the end of 2020.
Scottish Water's Smart Taps
Scottish Water has announced a new project to install smart top-up taps in 30 towns and cities over the next two years. These public drinking taps will track the volume of water filled up from each location and estimate the amount of money and plastic saved.
The locations are still to be finalised with local councils, however the first tap will be installed outside the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh. Scottish Water plans to install 10 taps by the end of March 2019, with the other 9 likely to be in Glasgow, Ayr, Dumfries, Dunfermline, Fort William, Milngavie, Oban, Inverness and Aberdeen.
Despite the rise against plastic bottles, not all areas of the UK are developing new, updated public drinking fountains. In Manchester there are no council maintained drinking taps while across 5 Merseyside council area there are also none.
Elsewhere, Tyne and Wear has one outdoor fountain in South Tyneside and two in Sunderland, while there are four across the West Midlands and one in West Yorkshire.
What Impact Will They Have?
It's hard to say how successful the new public drinking taps will be before they have been introduced, however there's no doubt they will help reduce plastic water bottle use. The data taken from the Scottish Water fountains will be interesting and the existing taps in London have been well received by the public.
There may also be a public health boost, with some advocates suggesting the water fountains are likely to reduce consumption of sugary drinks because the water is totally free for anyone to use. However, the true impact of the taps in terms of health is likely to be one which will be determined in years to come.
According to Scottish Water research, 65% of the public prefer tap water over other varieties and they also find that 36% carry reusable bottles always or often. These statistics provide a strong foundation for the fountains to be a success and given the reputed high quality of most Scottish tap water, there shouldn't be any taste issues for the public - the same thing can't be said of London!
Get Smart Tap Ready
If you're not already among the 36% who carry a reusable water bottle always or often, you can join the clan with a Phox Go double-walled stainless steel bottle.