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Bucking the Trend: MIW Makes More Inroads into Europe

Friday, 9 August 2019 10:48:49 Europe/London

With the unremitting talk of ‘Brexit’, one can hardly be unaware of the fact that the UK will imminently be leaving the EU. But, never ones to just follow the crowd, at MIW we’re bucking the trend and getting closer to our continental cousins. With new partners to supply Elkay drinking water equipment as far away as Lithuania – and as close to home as Republic of Ireland – we are proud to be flying the flag for British service, as well as for our global partner, Elkay. A man refilling his water bottle at the new bottle refill station in Vilnius

MIW and Elkay

MIW Water Cooler Experts and Elkay have been working together for more than 15 years. It’s a relationship that we are proud of for many reasons. Of course, it’s amazing to be singled out as a master distributor for any supplier. But Elkay deliver so much more than good quality bottle fillers and drinking fountains. Like us, they’re all about the detail.

Elkay products are not just user-friendly, but wheelchair accessible and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) approved. They’ve been designed for complete durability, meaning that customers aren’t faced with endless upgrade costs and repair bills. They take into account the realities of life – vandals, weather, wear and tear. And, importantly for us and the UK market in particular, after significant investment, all Elkay units are now WRAS approved. This means that they automatically comply with all Government and water authority guidelines. Not to mention guaranteeing user safety. And this is a must for MIW. All of this makes Elkay a great brand for MIW to be associated with. Both at home and across Europe. 

A mother with two cute children topping up her water bottle at the new drinking fountain.

MIW and Europe

MIW has been working in Europe for some time now. We have regular customers in both Italy and Spain. And during the course of the last few years we’ve worked hard to forge relationships with reliable partners in other destinations. As the European Master Distributor of Elkay drinking fountains, we’ve become the go-to supplier for our counterparts in Poland, Germany, Holland, Lithuania and Republic of Ireland. And we have plans to extend our reach even further.

MW’s latest European project has been in Vilnius, Lithuania, where we have been working with our partners, UAB Industek. Called upon to install five public drinking fountains for Vilniaus Vandenys (Vilnius Waters), UAB asked MIW to supply Elkay drinking fountains to be sited across the popular tourist destination. With the local council and water authority using the fountains to spearhead a project to reduce waste plastic in the area, it was important to get the choice of units right. Of course, at MIW, we were very happy to oblige. This is the sort of venture that makes us proud to be a part of. And we’re as delighted to be able to help facilitate it in Lithuania as we would be were it just down the road in County Durham!

It’s a strange time in the UK. Most of the country seems to be focusing inwards. At MIW, we think that there’s never been a better time to look outwards. And to show the EU – and everyone else – that the UK is very much open for, and to, business. And that’s exactly what we intend to continue to do.

Photos: Saulius Žiūra

St Davids Bishop’s Palace Takes Waste Plastic to Task

Monday, 5 August 2019 08:27:57 Europe/London

The smallest city in the UK, and purportedly home to the resting place of one of the nation’s patron saints, St Davids is arguably one of the most religiously important places in Britain. It’s certainly one of the most beautiful. Tucked away on the Pembrokeshire coast, it’s a place that emits serenity. Part of that comes from its magnificent cathedral, and its near neighbour, the Bishop’s Palace. Despite its splendour and undeniable drama, the working of centuries has softened the Bishop’s Palace from an imposing statement of wealth and power into something mystical and romantic. No wonder so very many people take time to visit it. But with visitors comes waste plastic and now the site’s owners and caretakers, Cadw, are taking steps to combat it. Introducing the St Davids Bishop’s Palace new drinking fountain and bottle filling station

The St Davids Bishop’s Palace Drinking Station

New green outdoor bottle refill station at St Davids Bishop's Palace.

Situated in the visitor centre, the new drinking fountain has been installed to both provide a free service to the public and help reduce waste plastic. The idea is that if water is freely available, people will refill their bottles rather than replace them. As such, the perfect unit had to be chosen, so Cadw called in MIW to help!

The UK’s leading experts on indoor and outdoor bottle filler installations, MIW has played a significant part in the #OneLess Campaign and London Drinking Fountain Fund. Having installed similar units across London – as well as in numerous other parts of the UK – we knew exactly what the Bishop’s Palace visitor centre needed: A shiny new Halsey Taylor Endura II 4405BF.

Halsey Taylor Endura II 4405BF

Designed for delivering quality at high volume, the [Halsey Taylor] bottle filler and drinking fountain is easy to use, low waste and WRAS-approved. This means that it’s guaranteed safe and secure down to the very last bolt. It delivers water using laminar flow, so users are unlikely to be bothered by splashback, while the inline strainer and silver-ion antimicrobial coating ensure the greatest levels of hygiene. Weather-proof and vandals resistant by design, the unit should be serving the visitors of the St Davids Bishop’s Palace for years to come.New green drinking fountain outside of the visitor centre at St David’s Bishop’s Palace.

The Plastic Problem

Waste plastic is by no means a problem for St Davids alone. Or even just for Wales. While the Welsh Assembly is taking steps to turn Wales into the ‘World’s first refill nation’, the problem of waste plastic is endemic. The amount of plastic waste generated annually in the UK is estimated to be nearly 5 million tonnes. Globally, we use around 100 million tonnes of plastic every year. And it’s destroying our ecosystem. Particularly our oceans.

If we can all take steps to reduce the single-use plastic that we use on a day to day basis, even just by a small amount, we could soon make inroads to resolving the plastic problem. Organisations like Cadw are beginning to make this happen with their bottle filler installations. Now it’s down to the rest of us to play our respective parts. And for most of us, that part will be upgrading our shop bought plastic bottles for refillable alternatives.

Don’t you think that it’s time that you did just that?

A Jewel in the Crown Estate?

Monday, 29 July 2019 10:05:29 Europe/London

MIW install a #OneLess bottle filler on South St Alban’s Street, St James.

We don’t want to get ideas above our station, but we’ve just carried out an installation on Crown Estate land, doncha know.

Working with #OneLess and the London Drinking Fountain Fund has taken us to such a huge variety of locations. From the heart of the Natural History Museum to Brixton. And now, here we are, working on Crown land… Which is, of course, just like any other land in the centre of London. Expensive, noisy and very, very busy. Still, it’s nice to feel like we’re doing something just a little bit posh from time to time!

The new drinking fountain and sports bottle filling station has been placed on St Alban’s Street because it’s really flipping busy. With as many – if not more – tourists as workers visiting the area on a daily basis, St James is a hive of human activity. And that means that there’s plenty of opportunity to make a difference by cutting back on waste plastic in the area.

Everyone needs to drink water, but tourists are particularly thirsty customers when it comes to the consumption of bottled water. And you can’t blame them; when you’re away from home you can’t be expected to take everything with you. But that does mean that in areas like St James, with its striking Palace and beautiful parkland, waste plastic can be a serious problem. The new bottle filler should help to tackle that. Example of a new outdoor bottle refill station that was installed South St Alban’s Street

Weather-proof and vandal-resistant, the Halsey Taylor 4405BF Endura II Tubular outdoor bottle filler is a perfect fit for its regal surroundings. It’s high performing, easy to use and accessible to all. It’s also pre-treated with anti-microbial protection, to ensure that users have a safe and healthy drinking experience.

The hope, of course, is that people will use the bottle filler to top up any bottles they might be carrying, rather than picking up new plastic. This way, we can all work together to help reduce the vast amounts of plastic – 8 million tonnes annually – that enter our waterways and wreak havoc on our environment. It’s currently predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the world’s oceans than fish, if we don’t do something to stop the present trend. In donating this bottle filler – and 19 others – to the London Drinking Fountain Fund, all of us at MIW Water Cooler Experts are trying to do our bit. It’s easier for you to do yours – just use the fountains and bottle fillers when you see them.

Crown land, parkland, high street or shopping centre; wherever you are, you have a chance to make a difference. By ditching the single-use plastic and opting to carry your own drinks bottle when you’re out and about, topping up as you go, could have an enormous impact on the environment. And, if you think about it, your bank balance.

So, go on, give it a slurp. Everyone’s a winner if we can put an end to waste plastic.

New Bottle Filler for Bexleyheath

Thursday, 25 July 2019 13:37:39 Europe/London

MIW’s work with the #OneLess campaign London Drinking Fountain Fund has come on apace in the last few months. With almost all of the 20 new bottle fillers and drinking fountains we donated now installed, one of the last went into Bexleyheath Town Centre. And this installation got us thinking. Or, rather, the words of Londonwide Assembly Member, Fiona Twycross, did.

‘This is a great initiative that will benefit the whole community and help those without a clean or reliable supply of water, as well as people on the go,’ she said. And this seemed slightly bizarre, because who doesn’t have access to a reliable source of clean water these days? Then it twigged. The homeless.New outdoor drinking fountain in Bexleyheath

The Plastic Problem

When working on this project to bring drinking fountains and bottle fillers back to the streets of London, the driving force has primarily been to reduce waste plastic. Plastic has become something of an epidemic, with the waste slowly destroying our ecosystem and permeating all parts of the food chain – even humans are inadvertently consuming it. It’s poisoning our oceans and trapping creatures on land and sea. And plastic bottles are one of the most common items of litter in the ocean. On land, it’s not much better. Unable to degrade, plastic just sits there, for hundreds of years, taking up space and suffocating natural growth.

In persuading people to buy fewer single-use plastic drinks bottles, and providing alternative options – in the form of sports bottle refill stations and drinking fountains throughout the city – the aim is to significantly reduce waste plastic. First in London, then throughout the UK. With British adults using around 150 plastic bottles a year, cutting that number could make a massive difference. And that’s amazing. But then, so are the additional side effects.

An Additional Solution

The provision of drinking fountains and bottle fillers as part of the #OneLess campaign was always meant as a service. The free water was meant to save people money and hydrate them when exercising or just out and about. They might even help to foster a healthier lifestyle, with water being consumed instead of fizzy drinks. But it didn’t ever occur to me that these drinking fountains might be a lifeline to the homeless.

Nearly 7,500 people slept rough on London's streets in 2017-18. While you think of these poor people being cold and hungry, uncomfortable and often scared, a lack of access to fresh, clean drinking water is probably the last thing to cross most people’s minds. It was for me, anyway.

Clean, easily accessible drinking water is such an integral part of life that we all just take it for granted. Being in a situation where that isn’t the case is unimaginable for me. In fact, the whole of homelessness is unimaginable. Yet, in 2016, Shelter revealed that one in three families were just one paycheque away from losing their home. Homelessness can happen to anyone. It’s a terrifying prospect.

Having access to fresh drinking water is little comfort when facing the enormity of homeless. But if it IS just a little comfort, then that’s a very good thing. And I feel very proud that MIW could be of some little service.

If you want to appreciate the glory of our planet, you don’t need to travel far. Just visit a garden. The Victorians knew that. That’s why they created the Horniman Museum and Gardens. It’s a place formed to celebrate the Earth and everything on it. And throughout the years the 16-acre site in South London’s Forest Hill has played home to diverse internationally important collections, from musical instruments to anthropology. But it’s crowning glory has always been its gardens – and the animals who live in them. And this has led to the foundation behind the institution becoming increasingly involved in conservation.Woman refilling at an outdoor bottle refill station in Horniman Museum and Gardens.

It’s fitting, then, that the Horniman Museum & Gardens has been chosen as one of the sites to benefit from the #OneLess campaign’s London Drinking Fountain Fund. With work already underway, researching the conservation of coral and barrel jellyfish, the team at the Horniman were well aware of the problems of plastic waste and the impact it is having on our oceans. Consequently, the organisation was already making inroads into reducing plastic waste on its grounds by offering a free water refill service in its café. But now, visitors will be able to help themselves at the swanky new MIW-donated-and-installed Halsey Taylor outdoor bottle filling station and drinking fountain.

Dr Emma-Louise Nicholls, chair of the Horniman’s staff-run Sustainability Group which oversees the Horniman’s programme of continuous environmental improvement, says: ‘We’re constantly looking for ways to make a visit to the Horniman ‘greener’, so we’re delighted to have been chosen as one of the sites for the new refill points. We’ve been making good progress in reducing single-use plastics on site… this new refill point is an important and positive step, encouraging our visitors to use more refillable water bottles, and help the Horniman protect our environment.”

#OneLess branded bottle filler.And our environment really does need protecting. Around 8 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans every year. And if plastic pollution goes unchecked, it is estimated that there will be one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish in the ocean by 2025. By 2050, plastic in the ocean could outweigh fish. That’s a scary, scary thought, especially when there are steps that we can all take to make sure that it does not happen.

The #OneLess campaign, of which MIW is a part, was formed by ZSL London Zoo to take positive steps to fight against that tide of waste plastic. Working in collaboration with the London Mayor’s Office, the London Drinking Fountain Fund is one small part of the solution. MIW donated 20 outdoor bottle filling stations to the campaign and our team have been working hard installing them at deserving sites around the capital. While all sites have been carefully chosen, the Horniman Museum and Gardens feels particularly apposite. It strikes a chord going back through the years to the founder’s vision of sharing and conserving. And it’s been a great project for us to work on. Now, we just hope that the bottle filler makes as much of a positive contribution to the community as its host has done through the last 130 years! 

[Wind] Rushing A New Public Drinking Fountain to Brixton

Monday, 15 July 2019 09:25:30 Europe/London

Brixton’s Windrush Square has become the latest location to benefit from a free-to-use drinking fountain and sports bottle filler, courtesy of MIW, the #OneLess Bottle campaign and the London Drinking Fountain Fund

Named after the SS Empire Windrush, the ship which brought a new generation of much-needed, skilled Caribbean settlers to post-war Britain, the square is a busy, open space in the heart of Brixton’s shopping and recreation area. It’s also used for public events – recently hosting Brixton’s 100 year Armistices Day anniversary service. And it’s the busyness of Windrush Square, and its status as a community focal point that makes it such a perfect pick for a public drinking fountain. Woman refilling her bottle at an outdoor refill station in Windrush Square.

Every location selected to benefit from a #OneLess drinking fountain and bottle filler has needed to meet a particular set of criteria. But the most integral of all is that the location is somewhere where lots of people could potentially benefit from access to free drinking water, and where it could help to reduce the presence of plastic litter.

What is the #OneLess London Drinking Fountain Fund

The London Drinking Fountain Fund was set up by the #OneLess bottle project in collaboration with the London Mayor’s office. The aim is to reduce single-use plastic waste throughout the city, through the provision of free-to-use public drinking water facilities. MIW was already instrumental in the #OneLess campaign when the drinking fountain fund was first mooted. As a company, we’ve been passionate about reducing plastic waste for a long time. Consequently, as soon as the idea was formed, we stepped in to donate 20 bottle filling stations, with built-in drinking fountains, and the labour required to install them in key locations around London. Outdoor bottle refill station with OneLess branding on.

The project began in January 2018, and by the end of December 2018 all 20 units will have been installed. The locations have been varied – from transport hubs to green spaces– but all are united by the high number of people who use them. Each of the bottle fillers has been selected to suit its location, whether indoor or out. They are vandal-proof, weather-proof (where needed), easy to use, and most importantly of all, hygienic, with inbuilt antimicrobial protection – so even the fastidious should have no qualms about using them.

And that’s the point: these bottle fillers and drinking fountains are there to make a difference – in Windrush Square, Camberwell Green, Carnaby Street and beyond. But they’ll only fulfil their purpose if people – like you – use them. So go on; fill your bottles and have a slurp!

Images courtesy of newsfromcrystalpalace.wordpress.com/

Two Lovely New Bottle Fillers for Lewisham

Friday, 12 July 2019 15:12:23 Europe/London

The #OneLess campaign and the London Drinking Fountain Fund roll on, with new bottle fillers hydrating the people of Lewisham!

Ladywell Fields and Beckenham Place Park are the latest locations on the list to benefit from the bid to free London from single-use plastic bottles. Thanks to the London Drinking Fountain Fund, each park has received a new outdoor drinking water fountain and bottle filling station combination. It’s hoped that if fresh drinking water is freely available on site, park users will have less need to bring disposable bottles with them when they visit. Not only will this lead to a reduction of litter in the parks, but it should go a significant way to helping the environment as a whole. Group of people smiling and posing at the new drinking fountain at Ladywell Fields

As it stands, 10% of Thames shoreline litter collected is made up of plastic drink bottles and lids. It’s killing our marine life the world over. With the Ravensbourne River running through both Ladywell Fields and Beckenham Place Park on its way to the Thames, it’s easy to assume that at least some of that debris begins its life in Lewisham. While the council works hard to clean up all litter throughout the borough, prevention is always better than cure. The #OneLess campaign – which MIW has been part of from the off-set – is all about powering that prevention. The consumption of bottled water in the UK has almost doubled over the last 15 years, and yet 65% of UK adults would not buy bottled water if tap water were freely available. So, that’s where MIW and the new bottle fillers come in.

Easy to use for everyone – including wheelchair users – the new drinking fountains donated and installed by MIW provide park visitors with an alternative to shop-bought water in ‘disposable’ bottles. For those who haven’t bought a bottle along with them, there’s a hygienic drinking fountain to use. With in-built anti-microbial protection and hands-free operation, the units will remain clean and safe to use for years to come. For everyone else, there’s a bottle filler with their name on it! 

People smiling and posing at the launch of new outdoor bottle filler in Ladywell Fields.

Both Beckenham Place Park and Ladywell Fields are popular community areas. Families come to play. Adults come to relax, exercise – individually or in groups. For all their apparent serenity, they’re busy places, used by lots of people. If even half those people make use of the drinking fountains rather than buying plastic bottled water, it could make such an impact. And that would make all the effort and investment worthwhile.

The Ladywell Fields installation has already gained the approval of local sports groups, the Good Gym runners and Nordic walkers. They were there for the official opening. Now it’s time to get everyone else on board. Let’s make these drinking fountains a success. Let’s stop making unnecessary waste. Let’s start preserving our waterways and our wildlife. For now, and for the future.

Helo Cymru! MIW Move over the Border with Work for the Welsh Government

Wednesday, 10 July 2019 14:49:26 Europe/London

One of the best things about MIW is that we get to work for all sorts of people in all sorts of places. And the most recent work we’ve been doing, for Cadw – the Welsh Government's historic environment service – has taken us to some of the most spectacular locations in MIW’s history. Think baths dating back to Roman times, castles erected in the 13th Century in a bid to pacify the Welsh, and a monastery (later developed into a Bishop’s Palace) once visited by William the Conqueror. The mind boggles at such beauty and history. And it’s been our very great privilege to help make each of them a little more visitor friendly for the modern dwristiaid (that’s ‘tourist’ in Welsh, in case you were wondering!).

MIW and Cadw

Amongst other things, Cadw is responsible for protecting, maintaining and servicing 22 sites of historical interest across Wales. They see to their upkeep, oversee restorations, and help to make each site as accessible to as many visitors as possible. Part of that involves providing facilities. Another part involves ensuring that all facilities are as clean and tidy as possible. A few months ago, Cadw came to MIW Water Cooler Experts to see if we could help with both of these areas – aiming to reduce litter while providing a lovely new service for all visitors: a bottle refill station. And so we got to work, installing Halsey Taylor Endura II 4405BF tubular bottle filling stations in 10 of Cadw’s most popular and beautiful locations.

Why the Halsey Taylor Endura II?A man refilling his water bottle at a green bottle filler.

Specifically designed for outdoor use, the Endura II is vandal-proof, weather-proof, durable (as the name implies!) and easy to use. It has a fast bottle fill rate, ideal for catering for visitors to busy tourist attractions. It has an inbuilt strainer, to ensure that water remains at its highest quality at all times. And, importantly for such stunning and ancient locations, these bottle fillers are discreet; small, curvy and green, they blend into their surroundings well, providing a service without creating an eye-sore.

The Locations

The bottle fillers have been located in heritage sites throughout Wales:

- Caerphilly Castle
- Conwy Castle
- Harlech Castle
- Laugharne Castle
- Raglan Castle
- Rhuddlan Castle
- St David’s Bishop’s Palace
- Tintern Abbey

They’re largely stationed around the visitor’s centre and have been provided to help reduce single-use plastic waste littering the sites, as well as to give visitors access to lovely fresh water, without having to pay for it.

This has been one of my favourite jobs to collate, and the MIW team have really enjoyed seeing all (or at least half!) of what Cadw have to offer. If you haven’t been to these places already, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. Plan a trip now – and don’t forget to take a reusable bottle with you. I know for certain that 10 Halsey Taylor Endura II bottle fillers are just waiting to say ‘Helo’!

This summer, the MIW team has been spending a lot of time in the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan. As Wales takes one step closer to becoming the World’s first ‘refill nation’, MIW has been working hard to install 14 new customised bottle filling stations across the county.

Wales’ Move to be Plastic Bottle-Free

During the course of the last couple of years, there has been an almost global introspection on the subject of waste plastic. We’ve all become aware of the amount of plastic we use – and discard – on a daily basis. Particularly in the form of drinks bottles. And the impact this is having on the environment. Businesses and governments have been looking for ways to combat the problem. And Wales is no exception.

People smiling next to the outdoor bottle refill station.

Wales uses around 725,000 plastic bottles a day. But while Wales ranked second in the world for household recycling in 2018, the Government is determined to do more to reduce the country’s plastic footprint. As well as offering incentives to businesses to provide more plastic-free drinking facilities, councils around Wales have been making their own inroads, with water refill points popping up from Pembroke to Wrexham. And now it’s Glamorgan’s turn. 

Glamorgan’s New Bottle Fillers

The Vale of Glamorgan’s council decided to focus their refill movement on areas that encourage activity. So, parks and leisure spots in Barry, St Athan, Dinas Powys, Ogmore-By-Sea and Penarth were chosen as sites for the 14 new bottle fillers.

Three different outdoor bottle fillers – the Halsey Taylor 4405BF, 4400, and 4420 – were selected for installation, according to location. Each one is WRAS-approved, ensuring that they not only meet strict water authority health and safety standards, but deliver the best quality water around. And they were all selected for the fact that meet Equality Act (2010) guidelines, making them accessible to as wide a range of users as possible. They are vandal resistant, and manufactured from powder-coated marine grade stainless steel, they can cope with all weather without risk of rust. In fact, they are so tough, that they can withstand temperatures as low as -30°. So, c’mon Welsh winter, show us what yer made of!

Blue outdoor bottle filler with a bottle on it ready to be refilled.As a finishing touch, MIW gave each of the refill points a colour makeover, in line with the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s instructions.

A Wider Refill Nation?

Thanks to initiatives like this, as things stand, Wales is currently well on the way to becoming the World’s first refill nation. It’s something that could make a real difference to the whole world. And something that the United Kingdom can be very proud of. But rather than simply revelling in the wonder of Wales, wouldn’t it be great if England, Scotland and Ireland gained that status too? Imagine if it wasn’t just 3.1 million people ditching shop-bought bottles, but 66 million people refilling regularly around the UK. Now, what a difference that would make. So how about it, UK? Will you accept the plastic gauntlet and raise to this very real challenge

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