The Charter School North Dulwich

The Charter School North Dulwich and MIW

In summer 2019, The Charter School in North Dulwich embarked on an ambitious two-year project to make the school a single-use plastic-free zone. Inspired by news stories of the global plastic waste problem, students, teachers and parents made a pledge to completely remove single-use plastics from the school grounds by 2021. One of the first steps towards achieving this goal was to encourage a refill culture. A crowd-funding project was launched to cover the costs of 12 bottle filling stations. And MIW Water Cooler Experts was appointed to advise upon equipment selection and manage installation.

The Brief

Around 1,200 pupils attend the North Dulwich Charter School. Drinking fountains were available on site, but largely unused due to water quality and unappealing interface. The brief presented to MIW was:  


  • To identify water dispensers that could provide high quality water at volume, free from taint or odour. The equipment needed to be quick and easy to use, to enable a rapid turnaround during peak times – between lessons and during breaks. It needed to be durable enough to withstand both heavy use and potential vandalism. And it was essential that the units be appealing to both students and staff to ensure the success of the plastic-free project.
  • As with all drinking equipment installed in public spaces, the units must adhere to all Government and water authority guidelines including WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme).
  • The equipment must be accessible to as wide a range of users as possible, including those in wheelchairs.
  • Once the appropriate equipment had been identified, MIW would need to assess the site for suitable installation points, advising upon whether the locations of the existing fountains could be repurposed, or if new locations would better suit the equipment and its intended use.

The Process

MIW faced two challenges on this project. The first being to find equipment that would appeal to the students in order to encourage a culture change towards refilling rather than repurchasing water bottles. The second was to ensure that the new equipment did not deter use by continuing to deliver the ‘metallic tasting’ water provided by the existing dispensers.

Two vandal-resistant Halsey Taylor Hydroboost bottle filling models (the HTHBSM, a straight bottle filling unit, and HTHBHVR8, a bottle filler with inbuilt drinking fountain) were recommended by the MIW team to answer all of the school’s needs. Integrated filtration would ensure the highest quality of water and remove student’s concerns about the taste and smell of the water provided. WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme) approval guaranteed that all health and safety guidelines would be met. And ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) approval meant that the units were proven suitable for wheelchair users. The hands-free filling mechanism also meant that as well as being extremely easy to use and easy to maintain, the units would be extremely difficult to damage.

Once the units had been selected, MIW assessed the site for suitable locations and arranged an installation schedule with the school in order to avoid student timetable disruption.

The Completed Project

The initial brief from The Charter School, North Dulwich, was for the installation of 12 bottle fillers. MIW completed the project within three months of the school initiating the project. Although only a short time has elapsed since project completion, the school is already making plans for a further 12 units to be installed across the site.

Glyn Griffith, Business Manager at The Charter School, North Dulwich, commented: “We’re very pleased with the units supplied by MIW Water Cooler Experts, and their assistance on this project has been invaluable. Our pupils can now stay hydrated more easily, which has been proven to improve concentration and their overall health, and they are no longer wasting money on plastic bottles. We’re looking forward to installing more refill stations in the future to help us achieve our plastic free goals.”

MIW will continue to work with The Charter School, North Dulwich, servicing, sanitising and maintaining the equipment on a regular basis.