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Cutting Plastic Bottles is Right on Track with Greater Anglia Railways

Bespoke bottle refill stations are appearing throughout the network, with a little help from MIW.

It sometimes seems a touch on the arrogant side to put the word ‘Experts’ in your business name. It runs the risk of trumpet-blowing and invites some unlikely challenges: if you’re such experts, how about doing this for me? And that’s what happened recently with Greater Anglia Railways, only with a perfectly friendly attitude.

Greater Anglia Railways (GAR) had a problem. Like a growing number of other respectable and conscientious businesses, they were looking into ways of reducing plastic waste on their premises. Free drinking water provision was one of the obvious steps, but ‘off the shelf’ options didn’t suit the company’s needs.

For starters, any drinking fountain or bottle refill station fitted for GAR needed to be able to deal with a vast number of potential users. According to the Department for Transport, rail passenger journeys in Britain have more than doubled in the last 20 years, with 2017 seeing 1.7 BILLION journeys.

Equally importantly, the units needed to be WRAS approved, which means that they’ve been tested for full compliancy with the UK’s water standards and regulations, making them 100% safe for public use. WRAS approved units are MIW’s speciality, so no problem there, but then we moved on to the nitty gritty.

greater angliaGAR required bottle stations that were robust, functional and “public proof”, while also chilling the water. OK, fine, we had a clear understanding of their requirements so far.

They needed to be branded. Not the first time we’ve had this request, so that’s alright too.

The customer displaying LCD which tracks how many plastic bottles have been saved from landfill or ending up in our oceans was no major challenge, our good friends at Elkay, the world’s largest water cooler manufacturer, helped us out with that one, It’s got to be said, it’s a stunning piece of work.

Another challenge came in the form of a security shelf which does not allow suspect packages to be left on top of the units – a vitally important security measure in any busy transport hub. Our design team were happy to step up to the plate and produce a bespoke custom-built bottle refill stations solely for the GAR installation.

The first units have been installed at Ipswich, Chelmsford, and Cambridge, but more bottle refill stations are expected to follow shortly, across the Greater Anglia network. The organisation has shown a commitment to environmental sustainability in recent years, beginning in 2014 with a pledge to reduce energy consumption while increasing recycling. They enhanced this move in 2017, with a series of local wildlife initiatives, which ranged from organised litter picks to the installation of bee hotels made by school children.  With hundreds of thousands of people visiting Greater Anglia stations throughout the year, just imagine the environmental impact should even a quarter decide to use the bottle refill stations rather than purchasing plastic bottled drinks. With a 500ml plastic drinks bottle weighing 10g, the GAR bottle stations could potentially stop thousands of tonnes of plastic going to landfill every year.

The really encouraging thing about all this though, is that GAR is not alone. MIW has already been commissioned to provide water bottle refill stations by a number of other rail operators, including Network Rail. It all goes to show that the fight to cut back on waste plastic bottles is right on track.

Please click the link below to watch our latest new water fountain at Chelmsford railway station.