Refill and Reuse: Messages from City to Sea, UK

Refill and Reuse: Messages from City to Sea, UK

Around the world, one million plastic bottles are bought and sold every minute. That’s a vast amount of single-use plastic being created and thrown away, and much of it ends up littering our beaches and choking our rivers and oceans.

We didn’t think it needed to be this way and in 2015, environmental campaigner Natalie Fee launched the non-profit, City to Sea. Our mission is to prevent marine plastic pollution by tackling some of the most polluting single-use items and providing practical solutions to help people switch from single-use to reusables.

Refill is our award-winning campaign to eradicate plastic pollution caused by bottled water by making it easy, free, and simple to reuse and refill your water bottle on the go. The campaign works by connecting people who are looking for water with thousands of local shops, cafés, transport hubs, and public spaces where they can refill for free via a location-based app.

Through our network of almost 400 community schemes across the UK, we’ve established over 25,000 refill stations – all of which are easy to find through our location-based app, Refill. We want to make it the norm for people to carry a bottle with them in the knowledge that they can easily find free tap water at any time.

With buy-in from the water industry at a national level and support from retailers and high-street chains, as well as influencers and celebrity endorsements, it’s clear we’ve tapped into something that people care about.

And we’ve seen great success. We now have more than 250,000 app users and by the end of 2019, we’ll have stopped over 100 million plastic bottles entering the waste stream in the UK alone! Wahooooo!

Of course, water bottles are just one part of the plastic problem, and we want to find new ways to solve it! In the next few months, we’re expanding the Refill campaign to cover more than just drinking water to include other refillable products – helping to provide a one-stop-shop for avoiding single-use plastic and encouraging consumers to refill coffee cups, lunchboxes, and groceries, as well as cleaning products and toiletries.

Many high-street coffee chains already let you bring in a reusable cup for hot drinks and some supermarkets are bowing to consumer pressure by allowing people to bring their own containers to the meat, fish and deli counters.

As public awareness grows, brands and businesses like these are getting more engaged in offering solutions. It’s our aim to bring these things together, putting all the information in one place so we can all find out through the app where to go to save time, money, and the oceans!

Not only that, we’re going global as well, with Refill schemes already established in Japan, Chile, Portugal, Australia, and plans to roll out across Europe in 2020. In June 2020, we’ll be building on the success of National Refill Day which we’ve run for the last 2 years in the UK and will be working with our Refill schemes, partners and communities around the world to launch International Refill day. The Refill Revolution is going global!

For City to Sea, Refill is the simple, common sense solution that makes you feel good about doing your bit. We don’t want to make people feel bad about their choices, we want to inspire them to make more conscious, positive ones which we can demonstrate make a real, tangible difference to our planet.

Download the FREE app and find out how to get involved with the campaign here.


Coca-Cola, Nestlé and PepsiCo named top plastic polluters for the second year in a row

Coca-Cola, Nestlé and PepsiCo named top plastic polluters for the second year in a row

October 23, 2019

Manila, Philippines – Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo are the top 3 most identified companies in global brand audits for the second year in a row, according to a new report “BRANDED Volume II: Identifying the World’s Top Corporate Plastic Polluters.”

Four hundred and eighty-four cleanups in over 50 countries and 6 continents, organised by the Break Free From Plastic movement in September, identified the top polluting companies. The rest of the companies rounding out the top 10 polluters are Mondelēz International, Unilever, Mars, P&G, Colgate-Palmolive, Phillip Morris, and Perfetti Van Melle.

“This report provides more evidence that corporations urgently need to do more to address the plastic pollution crisis they’ve created. Their continued reliance on single-use plastic packaging translates to pumping more throwaway plastic into the environment. Recycling is not going to solve this problem. Break Free From Plastic’s nearly 1,800 member organizations are calling on corporations to urgently reduce their production of single-use plastic and find innovative solutions focused on alternative delivery systems that do not create pollution,” said Von Hernandez, global coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic movement.

This year’s most frequently identified companies in the brand audits – Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo – have offered mostly false solutions to the plastics crisis, underscoring how important it is for voices from beyond the consumer goods sector to demand accountability and call for an end to single-use plastics. The list of top polluters is again filled with some of the world’s most commonly known brands.

“Recent commitments by corporations like Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo to address the crisis unfortunately continue to rely on false solutions like replacing plastic with paper or bioplastics and relying more heavily on a broken global recycling system. These strategies largely protect the outdated throwaway business model that caused the plastic pollution crisis, and will do nothing to prevent these brands from being named the top polluters again in the future,” said Abigail Aguilar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia plastic campaign coordinator.

“The products and packaging that brands like Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo are churning out is turning our recycling system into garbage. China has effectively banned the import of the US and other exporting countries’ ‘recycling,’ and other countries are following suit. Plastic is being burned in incinerators across the world, exposing communities to toxic pollution. We must continue to expose these real culprits of our plastic and recycling crisis,” said Denise Patel, US Coordinator for the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).



  1. This report is published under the responsibility of Greenpeace Philippines
  2. BRANDED Volume II: Identifying the World’s Top Corporate Plastic Polluters. (2019)
  3. 2018 Brand audit report:  Branded: In Search of the World’s Top Corporate Plastic Polluters, volume 1 (2018)
  4. A Greenpeace USA report titled Throwing Away the Future: How Companies Still Have It Wrong on Plastic Pollution “Solutions,” recently called out companies for opting for false solutions.


Shilpi Chhotray, Break Free From Plastic Senior Communications Officer [Global/US]:, +1 703 400 9986

Jed Alegado, Break Free From Plastic Asia Pacific Communications Officer:, +63 917 607 0248

Matt Franklin, Break Free From Plastic European Communications Officer:, +44 792 337 3831



In the wake of a new bout of load-shedding, the long-overdue Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity(IRP) was finally published for implementation today – following nearly a year of deliberations, behind closed doors, at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC).

The Life After Coal Campaign (LAC) and Greenpeace Africa (GP) are appalled to note that the new IRP forces in 1500 MW of dangerous, expensive, and unnecessary new coal-based electricity: 750 MW in 2023 and another 750 MW in 2027.  This is an addition of 500 MW since the last draft made available to the public in August 2018. The intensifying climate strikes and the UN Secretary General’s repeated appeal for “no new coal power plants after 2020” serve as a stark warning to South Africa – the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be prioritised if we are to have any hope of addressing the existential threat of climate change. The President promised action to address the climate crisis, but this final IRP suggests that this promise was empty.

Moreover, the new IRP wilfully ignores all evidence that there is absolutely no need for new coal in the future electricity mix – it does not form part of a least-cost electricity plan for South Africa. Any new coal capacity will simply add to rising electricity costs and further exacerbate inequality and the economic downturn in South Africa. Coal plants built in the 2020s will be scheduled to run well past any reasonable deadline for zero carbon emissions, and are likely to be abandoned as stranded assets long before they are paid off. “There is no reasonable basis for building new coal plants when the technology and costs are clearly in favour of renewables and flexible generation” says Makoma Lekalakala of EarthLife Africa. “We no longer need to choose between clean and cheap electricity – clean energy is an affordable, healthy and feasible alternative.

The effects of the climate crisis (droughts, floods, rising temperatures and fires) already impact countless lives in southern Africa and cost the fiscusbillions. This is quite apart from the severe health impacts caused by coal-fired power stations. “A decision to build new coal plants, and thus expose South Africa to further climate risk and impacts, is a clear violation of the Constitutional rights to human dignity, life and an environment not harmful to health and wellbeing” says Robyn Hugo of the Centre for Environmental Rights.

South Africa faces trillions in transition risk costs as a result of the delays in sufficiently and timeously tackling the move away from fossil fuels. The IRP could – and should – be a golden opportunity to clearly delineate a Just Transition path for the country. Bold and decisive action is required to eliminate electricity sources that exacerbate our country’s triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment. Instead, the updated IRP will exacerbate the current power cuts, by its irrational selection of risky coal technologies that cannot contribute to energy security for many years. “The new IRP is an obvious attempt to serve the few vested interests in the fossil fuel sector, at the expense of many”, says Bobby Peek of groundWork.

This IRP contradicts the urgent need for a Just Transition and is completely out of touch with reality.South Africa is already a global air pollution hotspot because of the country’s almost complete reliance on coal. The IRP’s irrational increase in the use of coal will only result in yet more deadly toxic air, while wasting precious water resources and pushing us closer to the brink of complete climate chaos”, says Happy Khambule, Senior Political Advisor forGreenpeace Africa. The government is already facing legal action, in the “Deadly Air” litigation launched by the Centre for Environmental Rights on behalf of groundWork and Mpumalanga community organisation, Vukani Environmental Justice Movement in Action, for its failure to protect the health and rights of communities living in the Highveld from the severe air pollution impacts of coal-fired power and industry.

It is understood that the IRP’s allocation for new coal is intended predominantly for the two “preferred bidder” coal independent power producers (IPPs) – Thabametsi (Limpopo) and Khanyisa (Mpumalanga Highveld). These ill-fated projects face a mountain of obstacles – both in relation to their environmental approvals and to their funding. Instead of simply abandoning these costly coal plants (as the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy is within its rights to do), government irrationally continues to grant extensions of the projects’ commercial and financial close deadlines.

LAC and GP maintain that the inclusion of new coal in South Africa’s future electricity plans, is a clear violation of the Constitution. The organisations also argue that a fair process of determining a new IRP demands that communities affected by the harmful impacts of coal-fired power generation must be adequately consulted, and their voices heard. This has not been done, which makes this IRP fatally flawed.

Reasons for the decision to include new coal capacity in the IRP will be requested from Minister Gwede Mantashe in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, and the response will inform further legal action.


For media queries and comment, please contact:

Makoma Lekalakala
Director, Earthlife Africa
082 682 9177

Happy Khambule
Senior Political Advisor, Greenpeace Africa
064 753 3442

Bobby Peek
Director, groundWork
082 464 1383

Lerato Balendran
Communications Manager, Centre for Environmental Rights
079 043 2970

Tsepang Molefe
074 405 1257

The Life After Coal/Impilo Ngaphandle Kwamalahle is a joint campaign by Earthlife Africa JohannesburggroundWork, and the Centre for Environmental Rights.

Argentina’s new waste decree is illegal and must be repealed

Argentina’s new waste decree is illegal and must be repealed

Social and environmental organizations reveal Basel Convention violations

On 26 August, Argentinian president Mauricio Macri signed decree 591/2019, reclassifying what are considered wastes and what are considered commodities in the context of international trade (transboundary movements). According to local and international environmental and social organizations, the new waste decree is illegal under international law, and places its environment, health, and recycling jobs at risk. The groups today called for the decree’s immediate repeal.

The Basel Action Network (BAN) and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) joined the Anti-Incineration Citizens Coalition of Argentina, Greenpeace Argentina and the Argentinian Federation of Waste Pickers (FACCyR) in expressing surprise and alarm over the decree as it violates Argentina’s legal obligations to uphold waste definitions established in the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel Convention), the international treaty that regulates global waste flows. 

The Basel Convention defines wastes in a manner that includes materials destined for “recovery” operations, which include recycling, but also “waste-to-energy” incineration and co-incineration in cement kilns. These operations can lead to significant pollution, and thus the Basel Convention requires parties to control them as wastes. Decree 591 limits the definition of waste dramatically, allowing many wastes destined for recycling or incineration to escape control. The Basel Convention does not allow countries that are party to it to unilaterally reduce the scope of the treaty by new national definitions or other means.

“Argentina has already agreed to the international definition of waste when it joined the Basel Convention,” said Jim Puckett, founder and director of the Basel Action Network, a global waste trade watchdog organization. “Unless it wishes to leave the Convention at the same time, this decree, as written, violates international law.” 

“This decree that turns Argentina into the world’s dump is issued in a very significant international context. When countries such as China, Malaysia and Indonesia are closing their borders to plastic waste, and United States needs new places to export its trash, President Macri approves decree 591 that allows the import of this trash,” said Raúl Montenegro from FUNAM (Environmental Defence Foundation) and the Anti-Incinerator Citizens Coalition of Argentina. 

“This decree could mean an open door policy for foreign wastes coming into Argentina, and the pollution that comes with it. Our investigations show that global waste flows magnify global inequalities, and harm local communities in receiving countries, particularly when it comes to plastic waste and e-waste. Often, imported wastes end up being used to fuel cement kilns or feed incinerators, emitting dioxins, furan and heavy metals, as well as lots of carbon emissions,” said Cecilia Allen, Global Programs Advisor at GAIA. 

“The decree, if retained, also puts at risk the jobs of 150,000 informal recyclers who work nationwide and are the largest suppliers of Argentina’s recycling industry. If waste imports encourage incineration, it is hard to imagine how the recycling industry will survive. In addition, most of the recyclables produced domestically are either recycled by the colleagues who work in dumps or landfills or wasted due to lack of governmental support to recycling. Instead of importing waste we should be recycling the materials we produce here,” said Jacquelina Flores, Secretary of the Argentinian Waste Pickers Federation.  

Argentinian lawyers, recyclers and environmental activists have also filed a motion to repeal the decree on grounds that it violates Article 41 of Argentina’s constitution that guarantees environmental protection and bans toxic waste imports. Argentinian environmental groups’s mobilisation to repeal the decree has been mirrored by the mobilisation of informal sector recyclers, who marched in the capital Buenos Aires a few weeks ago. 

 For more information, please contact: 

Photo from Jenni Hume – Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland




Korea Zero Waste Movement Network organized a plastic-free music and culture festival in Seocho-gu, Seoul, from September 21 to September 28. Seoripul Festival is an annual festival that Seocho-gu government has been hosting for five years to bring art and music performances in the city, attracting more than 950,000 visitors.

This year, the festival organizers announced three key rules to go plastic-free, including 1) No plastic bags, 2) No bottles water, and 3) No plastic containers at food trucks. Far before the festival, KZWMN and Seocho-gu government set implementation plans, ranging from urging visitors to bring reusable mugs and bags to working with food vendors to avoid plastic disposables. KZWMN also mobilized 1,000 volunteer applicants, 400 of who served as pre-trained zero waste captains throughout the event venue. They also raised awareness of separate collection (paper, cans, plastic, food waste), guiding visitors for better recycling.

For food and beverage consumption, event organizers installed 25 water fountains to avoid plastic bottles and paper cups, and
worked together with 50 food vendors to replace plastic with wooden sticks and paper plates (only when necessary). Next year, they will ban all single-use items and rent reusable containers.

After the festival, KZWMN examined trash and recycling bins, to realize that the amount of single-use plastics was dramatically
reduced, with cardboard boxes being the majority of the waste generated from the event.

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