International Refill Day: start reusing to stop plastic!


While our dependency on plastic is out of control and our use of single-use plastics continues to rise, this Wednesday, June 16th, 2021 calls for World Refill Day. This day was created to normalize refilling and re-using, rather than using single-use plastics, is supported by the European NGOs coalition movement #wechoosereuse, in which Surfrider takes part, to reduce plastic pollution. 

World Refill Day; reduce, reuse, refill, restart

During this day of commitment for reuse, in the framework of the #wechoosereuse movement, NGOs from the Break Free From Plastic Alliance (BFFP), invite citizens, economic and political actors to commit to sustainable consumption and production model: reuse. Even if BFFP members fought for the European directive on single-use plastics, adopted in 2019, they have bigger ambitions. A new law is not enough to get out of the disposable model: concrete, efficient and durable solutions, such as implementing reusable containers, are needed to support this change. Reusable containers reduce the production of plastic containers by increasing the object’s life span, as well as anticipate end-of-life management, preventing the creation of waste linked to disposable packaging. 

To support these reusable packaging and their circulation among consumers, producers and retailers, a deposit system needs to be implemented. #WechooseReuse thus invites everyone to integrate reusables in their daily lives, by using reusable containers at home, reusable bottle that can be refilled at water fountains, and going to committed restaurants offering a deposit system for take-always.

Deposit systems and reusables to prevent pollution: a system to be reinforced in Europe!

Food and drink packaging, and other single-use products, are a major cause of plastic pollution. They represent more than 65% of the litter found on beaches. Tackling the root of the problem is necessary by reducing the production and the consumption of such packaging. Deposit systems, to reuse and refill containers, come up as a solution with multiple benefits. 

Undeniable environmental benefits: reusing reduces the need and thus the production of new products. Fewer products mean less waste and more efficient recycling: the input of virgin raw material, and thus the extraction of fossil fuels, are reduced. By limiting containers’ production that way, waste impacting biodiversity will be widely reduced. Indeed, setting up such a deposit system in Hawaii allowed to reduce by half the number of bottles found on the island’s beaches, in only two years.

This system also creates a win-win situation: consumers get cashback when they bring the empty packaging to a collection point, producers see their packaging production costs reduced, and authorities see their waste management costs reduced. Apart from the environmental and economic benefits, #WeChooseReuse underlined the social virtues of such a system. By encouraging citizens, companies and authorities to actively take part in reducing their waste, the deposit system creates a new, attractive, territorial dynamic (green growth, creation of local jobs).  

Many initiatives encourage refilling and reusing, such as container standardization, vouchers, discounts for coffee or takeaway meals, etc. These solutions are more ecological, financially interesting, and compliant with health requirements. 

Surfrider Europe calls for the development and reinforcement of deposit systems for reuse in Europe. Already in place and perfectly running in several European countries (Germany, Denmark), it is currently discussed as part of the French Climate law, in Spain in the context of the draft “Waste” legislation (to implement the directives on waste and plastic), and also in Italy. 

You can also act!  

Without waiting for political decisions, you can act now, as a citizen, by switching to reuse! You will find essential tips to avoid polluting packaging in the Plastic Free Guide #3 “Enjoy an outside meal”. You can also download the "Refill" free app, which will help you find places to eat, drink or shop with less plastic and packaging. You now have all the keys to take part in the reuse and deposit systems and prevent Ocean plastic pollution.

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