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Pret A Manger starts offering free water at Veggie stores

Free filtered drinking water is to be offered by some Pret A Manger outlets in a move to cut down on plastic bottles.

The chain will offer the service at three veggie outlets in London and eight others in Manchester by the end of the month.

The idea is that shoppers will refill their own bottles with filtered water, rather than buying water in a plastic bottle.

The chain will also sell refillable glass bottles which customers can use and fill when they visit the stores.

Bosses at the chain are considering going even further with an outright ban on plastic bottles for water and soft drinks.

Pret A Manger will soon be handing out free filtered water at its veggie stores in London and Manchester 

Details were revealed this week in a blog by the company’s chief executive, Clive Schlee, who said it is part of a wider programme to cut down on waste.

The company, along with other chains, is under pressure to reduce the use of throwaway coffee cups, which cannot be recycled along with other paper waste as they have a plastic lining.

Currently, its outlets are offering a 25p discount on drinks to people who bring in their own reusable cup.

Mr Schlee 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.

‘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.

The chain is on a mission to reduce its plastic usage and is even considering getting rid of bottled water and soft drinks altogether 

The chain is on a mission to reduce its plastic usage and is even considering getting rid of bottled water and soft drinks altogether 

‘We are looking carefully at both options. I tend towards the pragmatist end myself.

‘Starting today, all three Veggie Pret shops – extending to our Manchester shops by the end of the month – will be encouraging customers to fill up their bottles for free using new filtered water stations.

‘These shops will also start selling two sizes of reusable glass bottles alongside our regular water bottles, so the choice is clear.

‘The aim is to understand if customers will choose to refill a bottle rather than buying a new plastic one.’

Mr Schlee has asked for feedback from customers on how to deal with plastic bottles.