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Make Marple Plastic Free

Matthew Corrigan

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MarpleChris WallisUnited Utilities

An ambitious project to reduce the use of plastic water bottles could see Marple blaze an environmental trail.

Longstanding Marple resident and business owner, Chris Wallis has long been an advocate of reducing the use of unnecessary packaging, and it was during a visit to London's Borough Market that he had his 'lightbulb moment'. The London Bridge food market is in the process of turning itself into an entirely plastic-free zone, and is phasing out the sale of single-use plastic drinking bottles. Instead, water fountains have been installed which allow users to refill their own bottles rather than buying new. Borough Market sits on private land, which has made implementing the scheme relatively simple. Chris, however, could think of no reason why a similar idea wouldn't work here. As a small, self-contained town, Marple is ideally placed to lead the way, providing a blueprint which could be allow the process to be replicated on a wider scale across the area.

Chris contacted United Utilities, who agree in principle with his suggestion and are enthusiastic about the scheme. The quality of Marple's water is exceptionally high, meaning there really should be no reason to buy bottled. The company has agreed to carry out installation work free of charge, once suitable sites have been found (as well as being convenient for public access, the fountains must be placed near to existing mains). Outdoor water fountains are more complex than might be realised and it is important that the right ones for the job are used. Fortunately, it should be possible to 'piggyback' the research that has been carried out in London. Costing up to £2000 each and requiring ongoing maintenance, the equipment will need to be funded. The benefits, however, will far outweigh the cost.

Meanwhile the second  stage of the plan is already beginning to take shape. Chris has spoken to several retailers and support has been overwhelming. In association with www.refill.org.uk,  a Bristol-based charity, it will soon be possible for residents and visitors to fill up their own bottles at a variety of outlets across town. The first sign went up at All Things Nice on this March. Owner Rick Morris is firmly behind the project, also offering a discount for take away coffee to anyone who brings their own cup.

There is a real appetite for change with regards to plastic use. As a former scientist, Chris is determined to tackle the long-term problem of superfluous packaging. Bottled water in particular is an unnecessary waste. With public opinion captured by Sir David Attenborough's recent Blue Planet broadcast highlighting the plight of the oceans, this idea is very much of the moment. Further information about the refill charity can be found at their website: https://www.refill.org.uk  and there will soon be a dedicated Facebook page giving details of the progress being made in Marple.