Refilling our way to a greener Greater Manchester

How the Refill app is helping us reduce plastic waste

Why we supported #WorldRefillDay 

Greater Manchester has long recognised the importance of tackling single-use plastics, having launched the Greater Manchester Plastic Pact in 2019 to formalise the city-region’s commitment to reducing single-use plastics across the public estate.

The Pact provides us with the right mindset, approach, and environment to help single-use plastic reduction initiatives thrive, working with partners right across the city-region to make it happen. It commits us to sharing knowledge, data, insights, and best-practice, as well as supporting new initiatives and raising awareness amongst our staff, suppliers, and wider community – but we can’t do it alone, which is why we chose to partner with City to Sea and the brilliant Refill app to get residents and businesses engaged and actively reducing their dependency on single-use plastics!

The impact so far

We’ve only been working with City to Sea since April 2023, but we’ve already seen a huge impact across the city-region, with businesses signing up to be refill stations and residents making use of the app. Many Greater Manchester businesses have always offered refills, but beyond the odd poster in a coffee shop window it has been hard for them to effectively promote the service, or for residents understand where they can refill. The app has really brought things together, offering a clear picture of what’s available and helping it feel like a real movement.

We’ve signed up over 900 refill stations across the city-region to date, saving over 48,000 bottles from being used – that’s the equivalent of 335 blue whales lined up nose to tail! We’re seeing big increases all the time, helping form a vibrant network of refill stations and providing residents with a more choice, be that refill stations near where they live or stations they can access on the move. But we want more businesses to sign up – our dream would be that you are never more than a few steps away from a place you can refill wherever you are in Greater Manchester!

We have lots of great community refill schemes operating in Greater Manchester too, but we need more people to get involved and help create lasting change in the communities where they live and work. If you are interested in joining us to grow refill and reuse at a local level, please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.

What’s next?

Whilst we are making great progress, there is still more to do. Over the next year will be stepping up work to engage businesses, residents, and Greater Manchester Combined Authority colleagues, offering a greater level of support and advice as we encourage them to join the refill revolution and use less avoidable single-use plastics. We are also looking to test other approaches, like partnering with cafes on returnable cup schemes – watch this space!

Visit the GM Green City Refill website

Check out more of what Greater Manchester Combined Authority is planning with Refill and Reuse in the coming year.