Pret rolls out filtered water fountains across 250 UK outlets

Pret A Manger has ramped up the roll out of filtered water points to its UK shops, in a bid to help customers reduce the number of plastic bottles they’re using.

Two hundred and fifty Pret shops across the country (64%) now have free filtered water available via water fountains on the shop floor. The filtered water is available for any member of the public, even if they’re not making a purchase at Pret.

Research commissioned by Refill in 2018* found that one in three adults in the UK (34%) felt uncomfortable asking for a reusable bottle to be filled at a restaurant or café when they hadn’t bought anything.

One in five (19%) still felt uncomfortable asking even when they had made a purchase. The installation of filtered water fountains is designed to address this concern, allowing people to refill their water bottles without worrying about asking.

To make it even easier for customers and passers-by to find their closest filtered water point, Pret is now signed up to Refill – a nationwide campaign to prevent plastic pollution at source by making it easier to reuse and refill a water bottle on the go. The location-based app connects users with businesses, transport hubs and public spaces where they can fill up for free, wherever they are.

Director of Strategy & Sustainability, Laura Gutowski, commented, “We have trialled a number of initiatives in our shops to encourage customers to reduce the number of plastic bottles they use.

'In 2018, we introduced free filtered water stations to 70 shops, launched reusable bottles in partnership with Chilly’s and trialled deposit return schemes to increase plastic bottle recycling rates.

“Although we already offered drinking water on request at all of our shops, we know that behaviour is most likely to change if we can enable people to fill up themselves, rather than having to ask a team member at the counter.

'We have installed filtered water fountains in all of our shops with enough space front of house. The fountains are easy to spot, and we want everyone – not just Pret customers - to feel able to come in and fill up for free without hesitation.

“If each of our water stations is used just 10 times a day, we could save around a million plastic bottles a year, and that for us is great motivation to continue rolling them out.”

A further 90 Pret shops have free filtered water available behind the counter, where customers and passers-by can ask Pret team members to refill their reusable water bottles. In these shops, it is not operationally possible to install fountains.

Thirty-five more units are planned for installation later this year, making free filtered water available in over 95% of Pret shops. Drinking water is already available close by to the remaining shops.

Pret & Chilly's reusable bottles
Following the success of last year’s launch, Pret has once again teamed up with Chilly’s to design a fourth reusable bottle. The new bottle (pictured) features a brightly coloured peacock, made of pears, kiwis, blueberries and dill.

Chilly’s was founded in 2010 by James Butterfield and Tim Bouscarle, who were on a mission to accelerate the everyday use of reusable products. They reached out to Pret’s CEO Clive in 2017 after reading his blog post “What if Pret stopped selling plastic water bottles?” to see if the company would be interested in a reusable bottle collaboration. Just six months later, Pret launched its first range of reusable bottles with Chilly’s.

The Pret x Chilly’s bottles cost £20 each. The bottles are 500ml. They keep hot drinks warm for 12 hours and cold for 24 hours.