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With You at the Beginning and the End – Scottish Water and MIW Bring Bottle Fillers to the West Highland Way

Despite being 96 miles long, so not for the faint-hearted, the West Highland Way is the most walked long-distance route in Scotland. Running from Milngavie to Fort William it takes in some of the most spectacular scenery the country has to offer. But although it’s an area known for its high rainfall, there’s one thing that walkers of the West Highland Way just can’t get enough of: water. That’s why Sottish Water chose the start and finishing points of the route to install two of its Top Up from the Tap water bottle filling stations – with a little help from MIW.

Your Water Your Life

MIW began working with Scottish Water on the Your Water Your Life Top Up from the Tap campaign in the middle of 2018. The aim was to find locations where access to a bottle filling station would bring the most benefit. Both in terms of helping people to stay hydrated for free, and preventing environmental damage by reducing the number of single-use plastic drinks bottles purchased and discarded.

Since that time, MIW has installed 34 drinking water fountains/bottle refill stations for Scottish Water. Locations range from the Scottish Water new outdoor refill station by MIW Parliament Building in Edinburgh to the Shetland Islands, and, of course, the Outer Hebrides. Being situated in some pretty extreme locations – the Outer Hebrides aren’t known for their clement weather! – the bottle fillers will have to cope with a lot. It’s lucky, then that the Halsey Taylor units supplied by our global partners, Elkay, were designed for exactly that. Originally created for an American audience, these bottle fillers can withstand anything the Scottish weather can throw at it: rain, snow, sun, ice and frost. They’re vandal resistant too, so risk of accidental (other otherwise) damage is slim to none. Finally, each one has also been specially adapted to display the Scottish Water branding and livery, and had a tracker added to them, so usage can be monitored.

Why does usage need to be monitored? Because if demand is high enough, it builds a solid case for more bottle filling stations to be installed. And that could be good news for your pocket as well as the environment.

The West Highland Way Bottle Fillers

It’s the environment that has been one of the biggest drivers for Scottish Water when embarking on this project. Almost everyone has now seen footage of plastic waste littering our oceans. It’s not only disgusting, but distressing, seeing how our actions have detrimentally affected so many creatures. But the thing is, although the ocean is the ultimate end for a huge percentage of plastic waste, it can be seen everywhere. And that includes the breath-taking vistas of the West Highland Way. And if walkers are given the chance to refill rather than replace, there is hope that the only thing they’ll leave behind them is footprints.

Adventurer Cameron McNeish, who officially launched the two new high-tech water Top up Taps in Milngavie and Fort William, explained the problem: “People walking routes of any length need to stay hydrated and it’s vital that they ensure they have plenty of water to enable their bodies to cope with the demands of walks like the West Highland Way. It’s also important that walkers do all they can to ensure they use refillable bottles to help reduce plastic waste and protect the environment.

“Top up Taps at either end of the route mean walkers […] don’t have to carry plastic bottles, reducing the risk of litter.”

And that’s something that we can raise a reusable sports bottle to!

Comments | Posted in Bottle Filler MIW News By Mike Winter

Rewriting the Book – The Library of Birmingham Joins the Refill Movement

Despite having only been completed in 2013, the Library of Birmingham (LoB) has become one of the city’s iconic structures. A wedding cake rendered from glass and gold, it attracts almost as many visitors for its external splendour as its internal value. It is multi-layered, hosting millions of books and other resources within, while a glorious roof garden crowns its top. Awarded BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) Excellent certification for its design objectives, it is also known for its green credentials. But until this spring it was missing one vital asset: a bottle filling station. And who else would the managers call to remedy this situation, but MIW?

The LoB Bottle Filler

The library’s Facilities and Systems Manager, Lee Mills, had received a number of requests from thirsty students. Reluctant to both spend unnecessary money and contribute to the global plastic waste problem, the students were looking for access to free drinking water. With drinking water proven to enhance concentration, which makes studying easier, they had good reason for the request. Having become aware of MIW Water Cooler Experts from our work at Canary Wharf, Mr Mills gave us a call. And it didn’t take us long to get to work.

The library required a water bottle filling station that was capable of dealing with a high volume of users without compromising on quality. It needed to be easy to use and mess-free. After all, you don’t want to wreck RIBA Stirling Prize short-listed architecture with overflowing waste collectors and splashing faucets. The MIW Branded Eco-Dispenser was the obvious option. Delivering chilled water at speed, the unit is capable of filling up to 680 regular 500ml sports bottles per hour. But that’s just one of the reasons why it is the UK’s best-selling indoor WRAS-approved bottle refill station. It is low maintenance, hygienic and provides hands-free access for users with disabilities. The water is filtered for purity and chilled for flavour, while a ‘turbo’ drain deals with any waste water cleanly. However, it also had one more selling point for the Library of Birmingham: it could be branded.

The LoB’s new bottle filler, which is situated on the mid ground floor, has been finished according to the library’s bespoke design. The filigree which graces much of the exterior of the building has been used to create an attractive background, adorned by the words Rewriting the Book – Refill today, help save plastic from entering our seas and oceans. And with the sheer number of visitors the library receives, that help really could be significant.

About the Library of Birmingham

More than 35,000 people visit the library every week. It attracted 1.5 million visitors in the first six months after it opened alone. It is home to both nationally and internationally significant collections, including one of the two most important Shakespeare collections in the world.

With that in mind, we don’t want to overstate MIW’s contribution. But taking steps to reduce waste plastic IS important. And it has the potential to make a massive impact on the state of our world, both now and in the future. Because of that, we’re really proud to be playing our part. Especially in such extraordinary locations as the LoB.

You can find the Library of Birmingham’s new bottle filling station on the mid ground floor. It is accessible 9am-9pm Mon-Fri and 11am-5pm Sat.

Scotland Continues to Top Up from the Tap

Saturday, 30 March 2019 07:30:00 Europe/London

Scotland Continues to Top Up from the Tap

Scotland is officially one of the wettest places in Europe. Glasgow is fourth on the European city rainfall list. So, when you think of selling water to Scotland, you’d be forgiven for making analogies relating to Eskimos and ice. You might be surprised to learn then, that Scottish Water has recently invested in doing just that! Only, they’re not selling water as such, more the concept and the culture of it…

Working with MIW Water Cooler Experts, Scottish Water has started the installation of 35 new water refill stations across Scotland. In providing free drinking water in selected high-footfall locations across the country, the organisation is promoting a refill culture that everyone can get behind.

Top Up from the Tap in Scotland

From the end of the West Highland Way in Fort William, to the front of Edinburgh’s Parliament Building, where the first installation took place in 2018, Halsey Taylor water refill stations have been appearing. They are weather-proof, vandal-resistant and easy to use. And they’ve been designed for low-maintenance longevity, with in-built strainers for water quality and silver-ion antimicrobial coating for hygiene. Each one has also been customised to display Scottish Water’s messaging, and to track the unit’s usage. The idea is that if enough people use them, reducing the number of single-use 500ml water bottles purchased and discarded in the areas around these refill points, more businesses and organisations will be encouraged to get on board. And the more free drinking water points become available, the more people will use them.

But why should this matter?

Every Little Thing Makes a Small Difference

This is the strapline of Scottish Water’s environmental policy. And it’s a good one, because everyone really can make a difference when it comes to the environment. Particularly the environmental disaster that is waste plastic. And all of these little differences can meld together to create an enormous impact.

Each Scottish household generates more than a tonne of waste every year. Much of it isn’t recycled – even though it could be. If we all start using refillable drinks bottles and topping up from the tap rather than purchasing plastic bottles on the go, it could make a world of difference. Not just in cutting the amount of waste that goes into the environment – which is the key focus just now, and rightly so. But also, in cutting the emissions that are released in plastic’s production. Oh, not to mention cutting the amount of cash coming out of each person’s pocket. It’s a win-win-win situation.

So far, MIW has worked on 10 installations for Scottish Water. We’ve worked closely with our global partner Elkay, who manufacture the Halsey Taylor bottle fillers, ensuring that the project is delivered on budget and on time. And it’s been great to see the enthusiasm with which each bottle filling station has been welcomed by the locals. Now, we can’t wait to get started on the remaining 25 locations that will take us to the highlands and islands, as well as the beautiful mainland. So, get ready to drink your fill Scotland; MIW and Scottish Water are on the way!

New #OneLess Drinking Fountain is a Roaring Success at the Natural History Museum

The much beloved Dippy T. Dinosaur may be gone, but there’s an exciting new exhibit at London’s Natural History Museum (NHM).  Announcing the arrival of a #OneLess bottle filler and drinking fountain!

OK, so it might not be quite as visually imposing as that big ol’ plaster of Paris diplodocus skeleton, but the bottle filler is equally impressive in its own way. Donated and installed by MIW as part of the #OneLess London Drinking Fountain Fund, the bottle filler is less about recording natural history and more about securing the future.

Why the Natural History Museum Wanted a #OneLess Drinking Fountain

2017 was the year that the problem of plastic waste first became public knowledge. As an organisation dedicated to the reporting, recording and researching of the natural world, the NHM pretty quickly realised that action needed to be taken on plastic. And in November 2017, the museum took the decision to remove all plastic bottles from sale on site. Tap water was made available in the canteen. Refillable bottles were sold in the shop.

The Director of Science at the Museum, Professor Ian Owens, explained the move:

‘Our decision to stop selling single-use plastic water bottles is about becoming part of the movement towards a refillable culture. We are doing our part to encourage a mass lifestyle change that will help reduce the deluge of plastic into our seas.’

Can you think of an ethos more in keeping with the #OneLess philosophy? 

So, what’s the deal with plastic waste? Why are we all working to combat the problem?

Plastic Waste by Numbers

The Natural History Museum’s Bottle Filler

The new #OneLess bottle filler and drinking fountain is situated at  point is located in what we call the Red Zone which is the entrance to the Museum from Exhibition Road.  It is located near the Stegosaurus and next to one of our café outlets. . The Halsey Taylor HTHBSM was selected for its ease of use and ability to cater for a large number of users quickly. It is hygienic and efficient, durable and low-maintenance. It’s also vandal resistant, because, well, you never know what it might face in a public place.

So, next time that you visit the National History Museum, why not drop by to the Red Zone next to the Exhibition Entrance and check out it’s latest exhibit?

Comments | Posted in Bottle Filler MIW News By Mike Winter

Kingston Joins the Refill Revolution with a New Market Place Bottle Filling Station

It’s always nice when we find a client who is as passionate about what we do as we are. And that was the case with Kingston council. On 21st March 2019 we installed a Halsey Taylor bottle filling station in Kingston Town Market Place. And it all came about thanks to years of campaigning by one of the parish councillors; Jon Tolley.

Kingston joins refill revolutionThe majority of MIW’s recent commissions have been inspired by the growing concern over waste plastic. As public engagement has grown, so too has Government and corporate commitment. Organisations up and down the country have been contacting us to find the best public drinking solutions for their particular locations. We’ve worked on single installations for green-minded businesses, and projects that have seen us installing many dozens of drinking fountains and bottle fillers for public institutions. Each of them have been driven to contribute to the global plastic clean-up through the provision of alternatives to single-use drinks bottles.

That was partly the motive of Cllr Tolley too, but he also had other reasons in mind.

“Water fountains not only help reduce unnecessary plastic waste, but also provide clean and readily available drinking water for rough sleepers, cyclists, families, my favourite springer spaniel, and anyone else,” he explained. “After years of campaigning, I’m happy the first of several public water fountains is finally in place.”

And the thing is, he’s not the only one.

Since the Kingston bottle filling station was officially opened to the public on March 22nd 2019 it’s received a lot of interest. Social media engagement is high, but not as high as physical use. Because, as Cllr Tolley said, everyone needs access to water.

It’s not just those of us who need a pep while commuting or shopping who benefit from bottle fillers. They might be saving us pennies, but they could be saving someone else’s life. Because life is hard enough for the homeless without a struggle for water – the one thing that none of us can survive without. And yet most of us somehow forget about this when we see someone sleeping on the street.

As a purported nation of animal lovers, we also need to ensure that facilities are available for our pets when we’re out and about. Especially in the summer months. Then there are the cyclists, joggers and runners. The kids we all want to draw away from fizzy drinks… And the adults too, for that matter, if we’re looking for ways to tackle the ‘obesity crisis’.

There are so many reasons to encourage the drinking of water and to provide access to it as a free service. And that’s even before we get to the global waste plastic problem and the devastation it’s causing to our environment.

At Kingston they’re already taking steps to make sure that everyone can access fresh, clean drinking water whenever they need to. The new Halsey Taylor bottle filling station has been selected for its durability and accessibility. A silver-ion antimicrobial coating ensures that it remains hygienic. An inline strainer makes sure that the water is always at its best. And it is both weather-proof and vandal-resistant so that it can keep on delivering the goods years after year in rain, wind, sleet, snow and sunshine.

With plans afoot to install further drinking fountains throughout the borough, the Kingston Market Place bottle filler is blazing a trail. For the environment. And for the community. Every single member of the community. And at MIW, we’re enormously happy to be a part of that.

The Village Pump Returns to Freshford

Wednesday, 27 March 2019 09:29:38 Europe/London

The Village Pump Returns to Freshford

For most of us these days, living without hot and cold running water in our homes is unimaginable. And yet not so long ago – within the last hundred years, in fact – many British homes relied on hand-pumped water. Lavatories were external. Hot water was heated manually. And, for some, cold water was fetched in, in a bucket from the communal pump. Although a significant step up from the well, and delivering sanitary, piped water, it was still a far cry from the way that we live today. While absolutely no one can be nostalgic for those days, there is something slightly romantic about the idea of a village pump. It’s somewhere to meet and chat; a place to bring a community together. And it’s that sense of community that is being revived in a small Somerset village called Freshford.

The Freshford Village Pump

Now, the people of Freshford obviously haven’t all gone mad and decided to eschew their contemporary plumbing in favour of a vintage pump. Instead, they’ve taken the thoroughly modern step of installing a public drinking fountain and bottle refill station at the community café and shop. 

Opened by HRH Prince Richard the Duke of Gloucester, the new bottle filler (AKA The Village Pump) was installed as means to help cut waste plastic. Both locally and globally. Inspired by Sir David Attenborough's call to action in the BBC's Blue Planet II, the community was looking for a way to do their bit. Funds were raised by villagers, and Wessex Water chipped in £500 as part of its celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of Watermark – a scheme devised to support community and environmental projects… MIW had the privilege of carrying out that installation. And this is exactly the kind of project that we love to work on.

Starting a Sea Change in Water Consumption

Bottle filler installations are always encouraging for us, because it feels like we’re making a difference; joining the fight to cut Halsey Taylor bottle refill station 4420 UK Supplierwaste plastic. But the most heartening thing about Freshford’s Village Pump is the way in which it has been received by children. Kids from local schools were in attendance at the opening. Despite the fact that it’s essentially a glorified green metal tube delivering water – something these kids have always been able to get whenever they’ve wanted it – they seemed very switched on to the idea behind the bottle filler. Many of them would have seen the terrifying degree of the waste plastic problem on television. Others simply want to do their best to protect the planet and the creatures we share it with. And if we can encourage this mindset, and get children to adopt greener habits – refilling rather than repurchasing – they will hopefully carry them with them into adulthood. And that’s where change really begins to happen.

The Freshford Village Pump – a Halsey Taylor 4420-BF1U - Endura II Tubular outdoor bottle refill station has been designed to stand the test of time too. It’s weather-proof, vandal-resistant, hygienic and easy to use. It also requires very little maintenance. It should grace the Galleries in Freshford for very many years to come. And all the while it will be contributing to a global sea change and helping to stem the tide of single-use plastic.

Feeling the Love for Free Drinking Water in Redbridge’s Valentines Park

MIW’s work with the #OneLess Campaign, the London Drinking Fountain Fund and the London Mayor has to be some of the most satisfying of my career – and I’m proud of many of MIW’s achievements. The aim has been to reduce single-use plastic waste throughout London, through the provision of freely accessible drinking water. MIW’s part was the donation, installation and maintenance of 20 drinking fountains-cum-bottle fillers. After much groundwork, during the course of the last few months things have really started to pick up pace, with a number of bottle fillers finding new homes around the city. And the most recently placed was in Redbridge’s Heart of Valentines Park.

Those of you familiar with the area will know that Valentine’s Park has been in possession of a very fine drinking fountain since 1898. There’s just one tiny snag: it doesn’t work. It’s beautiful, but far from functional. Earlier this year, Redbridge Council announced plans to restore the fountain, along with others in Ilford and Wanstead parks, but then the #OneLess Drinking Fountain Fund came along. Now, instead of using hard-pressed council funds to return drinking water to Redbridge, we’ve installed a brand new Halsey Taylor Elkay 4405BF bottle filler with inbuilt drinking fountain.

Weather-proof, vandal-proof, hygienic, and designed to be accessible to all prospective users – including those in wheelchairs – the fountain has the potential to make a real difference to park life. Not only will it provide clean, fresh water on tap to all who need it, but it should hopefully also reduce litter throughout the park. And this is significant to the #OneLess campaign because of the presence of Cran Book in the park. With more and more waste plastic finding its way into our waterways and destroying our marine life – and the other creatures that feed on them – anything that prevents waste plastic from potentially entering our environment has to be a good thing.

The Leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Jas Athwal, recently explained why the borough wanted to become involved in the London Drinking Fountain Fund project: “As part of being a greener borough and a better place to live, we are committed to bringing water fountains and bottle refill points into operation across our borough. Providing simple ways of refilling and accessing free water not only cuts down on plastic bottle usage but helps people stay healthy and hydrated. We are delighted to be partnering with the Mayor of London and #Oneless London Drinking Fountain Fund on this new drinking water facility, which I hope will be a popular addition to Valentines Park.”

So many parks throughout the UK are in a similar situation to the Heart of Valentines in Redbridge. They all had drinking fountains – until they fell out of fashion, and we all fell in love with plastic. Imagine how much nicer the world could be if we could return to a time when seeing single-use plastic bottles was a novelty. Wouldn’t it be lovely to stroll in your local park and not see bottles littering the benches and floating in the ponds? It’s not beyond the realms of possibility to get to that stage… And the starting place is for us all to just use #OneLess bottle every week, and see if we can build from there.

Mike Winter - Managing Director 

The Crowning Glory of the #OneLess London Drinking Fountain Fund

Wednesday, 20 March 2019 09:56:11 Europe/London

The Crowning Glory of the #OneLess London Drinking Fountain Fund

You know that feeling you get when you know that you’re part of something special? Well, we’ve had that in spades this week at MIW. It’s partly because we’ve been working on a #OneLess London Drinking Fountain Fund installation, bringing a lovely new bottle filling station to the streets of London. And partly because of where those streets happen to be: St James's Place.

With a history dating back to 1661, when Charles II sat on England’s throne, St James’s is a place like no other. Part of the Crown Estate, it is elegant, beautiful and thriving. It has an air of purpose unique to busy city locations, and yet manages to maintain an equal sense of dignity. And dignity is something it’s pretty hard to maintain when you have millions of tourists marching through on a regular basis. With independent brands outnumbering the chains that populate most British streets, St James’s feels like somewhere special. And now MIW have become part of it. In a small, but hopefully significant way.

St James’s Place #OneLess Bottle Refill Station

Home to around 11,000 people, with many thousands more working in and visiting St James’s on a daily basis, it’s as busy as you’d expect a London location to be. As such, waste plastic is as much of a problem in St James’s as it is elsewhere. UK adults currently use around 150 single-use drinks bottles per person every year, with commuters and tourists being among the biggest culprits. If people can be persuaded to refill their drinks bottles with water, rather than buying new ones, then a huge amount of plastic can be removed from the environment. But facilities need to be in place to enable people to do that. Cue MIW and the #OneLess London Drinking Fountain Fund.

MIW has been involved in the #OneLess project from its conception. Part of that has been the donation of 20 bottle filling stations and drinking fountains for installation around the city. And this week, we added St James’s to that list.

The Chosen Bottle Filler

A Halsey Taylor Endura II 4405BF tubular bottle filling station was selected for St James’s Place. WRAS-approved, with a London jogger drinking from refillable sports bottle strong steel frame, simple push-button operation and a vandal-proof and weather-proof design, the unit is perfect for catering for a high volume of users in an outdoor situation. An inline strainer helps to make sure that the best quality of water is always delivered. While silver ion antimicrobial coating works to makes sure that the unit remains as hygienic as possible. Fitted with a bespoke tracker, it will also allow us to see exactly how much it is being used. This isn’t a self-congratulatory device, but a means to show other organisations what a difference refilling could make. 

The #OneLess Project continues to be among the most fulfilling work undertaken by MIW in the history of the company. It’s provided us with an opportunity to do something that has the potential to make such a difference. Not just on the local level, giving millions of people access to free drinking water. But on a national, or even global level. Because if we can reduce people’s reliance on single-use plastic, and show what a difference cutting back can make, we stand a chance of doing lasting good. For the environment. For everyone. And that’s something that anyone would be proud to be a part of.

Comments | Posted in Bottle Filler MIW News By Mike Winter

150,000 Plastic Bottles Not Hanging on the Ocean Floor

Monday, 11 March 2019 15:37:35 Europe/London

150,000 Plastic Bottles Not Hanging on the Ocean Floor

Guy’s and St. Thomas’ hospitals enormously reduce waste plastic with new bottle filling stations

Late last year we had the pleasure of installing a couple of Halsey Taylor drinking bottle filling stations at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ hospitals. The units were donated to the organisations by MIW, as part of the work that we’ve undertaken for the #OneLess Project and the London Drinking Fountain Fund. We were always confident that the bottle fillers would find a welcome home at the hospitals. What we were less certain of is how much they were likely to be used. Are people prepared for the refill way of life? Would they be willing to use a bottle filler or drinking fountain? How many people would even notice the units were there? Well, we now have answers to all of those questions, and the news is very, very good.

150,000 times good, in fact.

The Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Bottle Refill Stations 

The first of Guy’s and St. Thomas’ bottle filling stations was installed in September 2018. Thanks to a specially designed New Wras Approved MIW Bottle Refill Stations counter installed on that first unit, we were able to monitor how much it was used. Not just the overall amount of water that was processed by the filler, but the number of people who used it. In just the first three months, between October and December, before it became a known fixture of the hospital, the test unit was used a staggering 9,500 times. That’s more than 105 times a day!

Based upon the litres of water consumed during the trial period, it is now estimated that each bottle filler will cater for at least 38,000 bottles per year. With four bottle fillers now in place across the two hospitals, that’s a total saving of 150,000 single-use bottles on a yearly basis. Or, as we like to think of it, 150,000 plastic bottles not littering the ocean floor.

Why so Many Organisations are Saying Goodbye to Plastic

There’s been a huge focus on plastic waste in the last few years. And the main reason for this is because it’s important. Across the globe, we get through a frightening amount of plastic every year. We’ve now reached the stage where 8 million tonnes of the stuff finds its way into the world’s oceans annually. And once there, it doesn’t go anywhere… Other than into the food chain. Marine species eat it or get trapped in it. If it doesn’t kill them directly, they get consumed by something else, and that creature in turn has to deal with a plastic-filled diet. Some scientists believe that this could lead to mass extinction and the emptying of our waterways.

Thanks, in part, to public pressure, there is a growing momentum to instigate chance. As part of that, responsible organisations are taking steps to reduce their plastic consumption. And the easiest way to remove a problem is to provide an alternative. That’s what Guy’s and St. Thomas’ are doing with their new bottle fillers. That’s what we’re doing at MIW, with our support of the #OneLess campaign.

I usually end these blogs stating that now the bottle fillers are there, we just need people to start using them. Now, however, we know that they are. And if we can prevent the use of 150,000 plastic bottles by putting bottle filling stations in just two hospitals, imagine what we could achieve if they went into every hospital. Into every public organisation and accessible space! Now there’s a will it’s time to provide a way. So, let’s finish on a question:

Where are you going to put your company’s bottle filler?

Bringing A #OneLess Bottle Filler to Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospitals.

Comments | Posted in Bottle Filler By Mike Winter

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