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Free Drinking Water Right on Track

Network Rail performs U-turn over drinking fountains

It’s not easy for something that runs on tracks to perform a U-turn, but some issues are really worth the effort, even if it does cause a temporary derailment of pride. After issuing a statement in December, saying “Water fountains are not a facility we currently have in stations and there are currently no plans to do so,” at the beginning of this month Network Rail rethought their position and have now got on board with the GLA’s (Greater London Authority) plan to help reduce plastic waste by providing free-to-use drinking fountains at stations.

I’m not drawing attention to this in order to highlight the network’s original folly, but in order to show that regardless of previous statements or opinions, it’s not too late for any business to help protect the environment and reduce the enormous volume of plastic waste produced by this country every day.

Along with hundreds of other responsible businesses around the country, Network Rail has decided to take positive steps to address what is now viewed as one of the biggest environmental problems of the current generation. The ubiquity of plastic presents a problem that seems almost too great to tackle, and is in fact, too big for any one person or organisation to deal with – this week scientists revealed that plastic waste has now even reached what was once described as the ‘pristine’ Arctic Ocean – but, if we work together, then we can make a difference.

Single-use plastics are the biggest problem, with drinks bottles playing a significant part. There’s no denying that we need to drink water on a regular basis – all animals do – but if we can switch from shop bought plastic housed water to personal reusable bottles, it won’t completely solve the problem of waste plastic, but it will make a serious impact on the amount that is left littering the streets, stoically not decomposing in landfill, and choking our oceans.

By getting on board and providing drinking fountains and bottle refill stations – like the Halsey Taylor Endura II – for customers to use, businesses and organisations, from ZSL London Zoo to Borough Market and, now, Network Rail, are helping to make a real difference.

During the course of the last ten years, the world has produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century. Half of that is used just once and thrown away. Of that plastic, more than 2 million tonnes comes from drinks bottles annually, and only 6.6% of them are made from recycled plastic. In the UK alone, we dump more than 16 million plastic bottles every day.

I’m not naïve, I’ve already said that it won’t solve the whole problem. But just imagine, just a for a minute, what it would be like if we could remove those 16 million bottles from our environment every day. Just imagine if we could stop two million tonnes of plastic waste. Wouldn’t the world be a nicer place for it?

Well done, Network Rail