The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Manchester City Council have pledged to make single use plastics a thing of the past as they commit to becoming a Refill Destination.

This announcement comes on World Refill Day (June 16) as the two organisations set out how Manchester and the wider city region will play their part in eliminating the over-consumption of plastic items. Working in partnership with the not-for-profit organisation City to Sea, the Council and GMCA will use their buildings and encourage others to do the same to expand locations across the city-region where residents can fill up re-useable water bottles for free.

The Council and GMCA hold an ambition to become a leading force in promoting the circular economy, and encourage people to move away from single use plastics for more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives. The move away from SUP is also connected to improving health outcomes across the city-region, as more becomes known about the potential harm caused by microplastics.

Some of the locations where people can fill up include Manchester Central Library, as well as the newly refurbished Abraham Moss Library, Gorton Hub, as well as across 10 sites in the city’s parks and their cafes. There are also numerous cafes and other businesses who already offer free refills. More widely, GMCA will review its practices, making more sustainable choices about the products it uses and the way it delivers services across the city-region, alongside supporting all districts across Greater Manchester to expand their refill offering.

This work is directly tied to the ambition for Manchester city and the wider Greater Manchester city region to become a zero-carbon by 2038, 12 years ahead of the Government’s national target of 2050. As part of this work both organisations see the use of City to Sea’s app – ‘Refill’ – as a helpful tool to help promote the move away from SUPs as well as spreading the message around the Refill Destination project.

Residents and businesses are encouraged to play their part by signing up to use the Refill app, to find out where they can fill up or how to join the wider Refill movement.

Councillor Tracey Rawlins, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “Reducing our society’s demand on single use plastics is a vital part of action needed to avert the life-changing impacts of severe climate change. As a Council we are determined to play our part locally and nationally as we push towards becoming zero-carbon by 2038. This will require systematic change, and a reassessment of habits, lifestyles and the individual choices we make. But I am positive that through projects like Refill Destination we will play our part in reversing climate change.”

Councillor Tom Ross, Greater Manchester lead for Green City Region, said: “This is a really positive step forwards as we look to cut single-use plastics out of Greater Manchester. As part of our overall plans to reach net zero carbon by 2038, we have to ensure we are doing all we can as local leaders to support our residents in making the changes our environment desperately needs. Making public buildings available for people to refill their water bottle and including them all on one simple app is a great way to help people move away from single use plastics and it will save them money too – at a time we know residents are struggling. I urge everyone to download the app so together we can all play our part in creating a greener Greater Manchester.”

Harriet Bosnell, the CEO of City to Sea said: “It’s great to have Manchester City Council and GMCA coming on board, supporting World Refill Day and pledging to become a “Refill Destination”. At the heart of this is an acceptance of the plastic crisis we face and an acknowledgement that we can’t just recycle more to solve this environmental disaster. Councillors like Cllr Rawlins and Cllr Ross understand that we need to reduce our plastic production and demand, and massively scale up reuse and refill. The damaging effect that single-use plastic can have on our environment is well known. We’re not saying all plastic is bad, but all too often a lot of single-use plastic is used out of habit rather than actually being needed. The damage that plastic pollution has on our environment is largely caused by plastics that end up as litter and the amount of carbon that is produced across its life-cycle – from manufacturer, to use, to  disposal.”

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