Customers at Pret a Manger’s three vegetarian branches will be able to refill their bottles free of charge at filtered water stations from this week.
The trial is designed to encourage less waste and customers at the branches in Soho, Shoreditch and Exmouth Market will be encouraged to move away from single-use plastic bottles as reusable glass bottles will be on sale from £3.99.
Clive Schlee, Pret chief executive officer, explained that the aim is to understand if customers will choose to refill a bottle rather than buy a new plastic one.
He said: “Plastic bottles are a problem. We all feel it even before we hear the shocking statistics about millions of tonnes ending up in our oceans each year and imagine the devastating impact this has on marine wildlife.
“Pret has always tried to lead on food waste – we’ve been donating our unsold food to the homeless every night since our first shop opened more than 30 years ago.
“We are making inroads on the problem of packaging waste by reducing where we can and making more of it recyclable. This includes working to find a solution to the fiendish coffee cup problem. We recognise we have lots to do.
“Plastic bottles present a real challenge and there are two schools of thought within Pret. The passionate environmentalists say stop selling them altogether, while the pragmatists say make it as easy as you can for customers to use fewer plastic bottles. We are looking carefully at both options. I tend towards the pragmatist end myself.”
Currently, Pret offers a 25p hot drink discount in its UK stores to customers who bring a reusable cup and it’s Manchester stores will begin trialling the move from 31 October.
Pret is offering glass water bottles in two different sizes (£3.99 250ml and £4.99 500ml to give consumers more choice). Clive is asking for customer feedback. Have you or would you consider swapping a plastic bottle for a reusable one? Contact him via Twitter.