London calling – how we’re tackling single-use plastic in the capital

Working with the Mayor of London to get people refilling

This summer, City to Sea worked with the Mayor of London on a campaign to get the capital refilling. Designed to tackle some of the barriers and challenges around reuse, the Refill London campaign aimed to build back public confidence in refilling and using reusables after the pandemic.


We reached more than 8 million people through our social media and out of home advertising alone, plus many more people both in and out of the capital thanks to extensive media coverage over the two-month period.

World Refill Day and the heatwave provided two PR hooks and the Refill campaign secured unprecedented amounts of national and regional press coverage as a result. The soaring temperatures in the heatwave highlighted how important it is to help people stay hydrated whilst out and about and how necessary the Refill campaign is for helping people access free drinking water. Working with the Mayor of London, we were able to help Londoners stay safe and hydrated during the heatwave. Learn more about the connection between Refilling, the heatwaves and the climate crisis.

With almost 10K new downloads and more than 15K app users in the campaign period, we have seen Londoners downloading and using the Refill app to stay hydrated whilst and about in the capital, demonstrating an increase in awareness of both the Refill campaign and of the 4000+ locations of Refill Stations. This also indicates an increase in public confidence in refill and reuse, something we hope to continue to work with the Mayor of London to build on further in the coming years.

Refill London

We designed a multi-channel campaign to drive an uptake of downloads of the Refill app in the capital, highlighting the 4000+ locations across the city where people can access free drinking water – be it a public water fountain, transport hub or a café or local business.

The project ran for a 2-month period from 1st June to 31st July, a period in which we celebrated World Refill Day and also experienced a nationwide heatwave, with extreme temperatures in London. These events provided further opportunities to promote the Refill campaign and reach more Londoners.

The campaign messaging and creative was led by our research into the perceptions, behaviours and attitudes of people in London with regard to refilling.

Our Research:

We conducted a survey of respondents in London, with the aim of investigating current consumer behaviours around the use of refillable bottles in London, looking at the motives and barriers of usage as well as the impact of the pandemic on consumer sentiment.

The research highlighted 5 main barriers to refilling experienced by people in London:

  1. Availability and awareness of locations
  2. Hygiene concerns
  3. Inconvenience/forgetting reusable
  4. Being refused a refill
  5. Brand awareness

Our Approach:

Led by the research, we launched a multi-channel marketing & PR campaign to tackle these barriers, taking the following approach to designing the campaign messaging and creative:

  • Knowledge – Solutions focused rather than problem focused
  • Infrastructure – Focusing on the wide array of infrastructure available

Social norms – Reinforcing that other Londoners are already refilling

  • We ran different social ad campaigns with bespoke creative and messaging to tackle each of the barriers to refilling, highlighted by the research.

The Campaign:

  • Paid and organic social media activity
  • Out of home advertising at 235 key London locations
  • PR campaign targeting London-based as well as national media outlets
  • Campaign digital toolkit shared with key stakeholders and London-based organisations
  • In-app messaging and bespoke content shown to app users in London


  • Total potential, estimated campaign reach of 8+ million (OOH + social activity)
  • 2+ million reached through OOH campaign
  • 6+ million estimated, potential social media reach (organic + paid)
  • 21 pieces of media coverage with a potential, estimated reach of 20+ million (London campaign specific)
  • 9K new Refill app downloads
  • 5K total app users in London
  • Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn posted to support launch of campaign & again on World Refill Day
  • Media coverage for the Refill campaign in The Evening Standard, The Daily Mail, The Independent, The Sun, The Metro, The Mail on Sunday and My London
  • Out of Home adverts were seen 10 million+ times at 235 locations across London, reaching 2.2 million people