A new campaign is being launched to help people across Sunderland cut down on plastic waste.

Sunderland City Council has joined more than 80 local authorities in launching a ‘Refill’ scheme to help businesses and residents become less reliant on plastic packaging.

Refill is an award-winning behaviour-change campaign to help people live with less waste by providing a platform to connect them and their communities to places they can eat, drink and shop without single-use plastic packaging.

The Sunderland scheme will support businesses and consumers to support the transition towards reuse systems and tackle the global issue of plastic pollution.

A total of 104 Refill stations are already registered on the platform within Sunderland, including high street chains and retailers such as Greggs, Costa, Starbucks, Asda and Morrisons as well as several of the city’s independent businesses.

Refill Stations include everything from independent cafes offering a discount for bringing a reusable cup, to greengrocers, restaurants, bakers and free drinking water fountains.

Refill Sunderland will provide a platform for new stations to register and will help promote them.

As well as being listed on the official free Refill app – developed by not-for-profit organisation City to Sea, which runs the free Refill campaign – they will also receive official stickers for their premises which can easily be identified by customers.

This week Brew and Bake in City Hall has registered as a Refill Station where it will provide free water refills and will be happy to serve hot drinks in customers’ reusable cups.

The café is also preparing to offer reduced prices to those who decline disposable cups for hot drinks in the near future.

Growing awareness about the environmental impacts of plastics has fuelled the rising popularity of reusable and refillable drinks containers, like coffee cups and water bottles, and many customers are driving demand for greener ways of consuming.

New polling for City to Sea released for World Refill Day has shown that 93% of people surveyed said they would like to see more refill and reuse options available.

Over 350,000 people across the globe have signed up to the app, with 75% saying the app has significantly helped them to reduce the amount of plastic they use.

Users also said they are far less likely to use a single-use plastic cup, bottle or container after downloading the app.

Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Hundreds of thousands of people across the globe have already reduced their carbon footprint and are playing their part in helping save the planet by signing up to the Refill campaign and we’re delighted that partners in Sunderland can now work together to provide more opportunities for people across the city to make a contribution to driving that change.

“We all have a role to play in tackling the climate crisis and only by actively working together can we ensure we’re doing all that we can – as consumers and businesses – to cut down on single-use plastics and prevent further climate change.”

Sunderland’s decision to join the Refill movement ties in with its commitment for the city to become carbon neutral by 2040.

Sunderland’s Low Carbon Framework was published in 2020 and outlines the areas where action is planned in order to help the city reach this ambitious target. One key priority is around reducing Consumption and Waste.

Cllr Miller added: “We’re absolutely committed to doing our bit in Sunderland to take action on climate change, and to working with businesses and partner organisations as well as our residents to support them to be more sustainable too. We’re delighted to be launching Refill-Sunderland.

“Through our Low Carbon Framework, we have outlined the key areas where we need to make progress as a city and to become carbon neutral by 2040.

“Reducing consumption and waste is one of our priority areas and embracing initiatives such as Refill will be key to helping us achieve our goals.”

Natalie Fée, CEO and founder of City to Sea, added: “The #RefillRevolution is happening in Sunderland and we’re here working with local businesses to make sure that it is affordable and accessible.

“This has to be what’s right for the planet but it also has to be right for our squeezed household budgets.”

Businesses wishing to learn more or sign up to the Refill initiative can click here or go to www.org.uk/get-involved/add-refill-station to add a station on Sunderland’s map, or contact the Low Carbon team at Sunderland City Council for more information at: low.carbon@sunderland.gov.uk