Last year, approximately 2.5 million plastic bottles were disposed of every single day, and less than 40% of these made it into the recycling system. Single-use plastic is a huge resource strain, and unnecessarily high carbon footprint - one plastic bottle requires 3 litres of water to produce! When you consider the carbon cost of the complete production process, transport, and refrigerating the bottles before sale you can understand the detrimental environmental impact from the modern system of purchasing bottled drinking water again and again. On the other side of the lifecycle, once consumers have drank the contents, unfortunately many of these bottles end up on our streets, countrysides, waterways and on our beaches.
The project was founded by Barry O'Connor in Dublin in 2017, out of frustration and despair at the numbers of plastic bottles ending up in our countrysides, on our streets, and in our rivers and oceans. He started approaching businesses to see if they would offer free tap water refills to members of the public, in lieu of accessible public water dispensers. The project was recognised by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland last year with Refill achieving a spot on the SEI Academy. Any business which signs up receives an info pack and a window sticker, to let people know they are part of the project. The Refill Ireland Tap Map has over 250 locations listed online (and is growing everyday), where you can top up your reusable water bottle around Ireland while on the go.