AF Blakemore & Son has become the first convenience retailer to join the Refill campaign to help reduce plastic waste.
The company has registered 68 of its Blakemore Retail Spar convenience stores on the Refill app, which enables people to search for places where they can fill up water bottles for free.
The app, which is part of the award-winning Refill campaign and run by plastic pollution campaigning organisation City to Sea, features more than 25,000 refill stations nationwide. With a simple tap, app users can find a local refill station and get fresh drinking water on the go, eliminating the need to purchase a new plastic bottle with every drink.
The app has been downloaded 260,000 times and is used by 30,000 users on average per month.
At registered Blakemore Retail Spar stores, members of the public are able to ask staff members for free water top ups at foodservice counters.
Blakemore Retail managing director Matt Teague commented: “We are delighted to be partnering with City to Sea and their Refill campaign to help promote refillable services at our SPAR stores.
“Our customers tell us that they are concerned about their plastic consumption, and so as a business we are committed to implementing changes to help them reduce it.
“This is a great initiative that will enable people to save money and cut down on plastic pollution.”
App users can also register their refills on the platform in order to measure their personal impact.
City to Sea CEO Rebecca Burgess added: “It’s great to see businesses like A.F. Blakemore/SPAR getting behind the Refill Revolution as a positive way to help their customers cut down on single-use plastic.
“We hope they can be an inspiration to other convenience stores and we congratulate them for making it easy for their customers to fill their up their reusable water bottles on the go for free.”
Meanwhile, AF Blakemore is also driving new initiatives across its independent Spar estate to aid retailers in cutting down on plastic bottle usage.
The company helped Hockmeyer Motors owners Rachael Hockmeyer and Christian Slingsby to introduce a free filtered water refill station at their store in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, when they carried out a refurbishment in the summer.
Customers can fill up their own bottles to reduce plastic waste or buy reusable bottles at the store.
Burgess said: “We are doing our best to move away from single-use plastics – it is about trying to be innovative and ahead of the game.
“We have had a lot of support from AF Blakemore as they are really forward-thinking. The free filtered water station is working well and creating a lot of interest.”
In further innovation to reduce packaging, the store refit also saw the installation of loose, dry food dispenser pods to enable customers to fill up paper bags, or their own containers, with helpings of beans, rice and cereals in the grocery aisle, or crackers, dried bananas and nuts in the snack aisle.