New COVID Guidance for Refill Stations

News – Friday, August 7th, 2020

Refill is an award-winning campaign to help reduce the consumption of plastic by making it easier to refill a reusable water bottle. CCCA is working with City to Sea to deliver this project across the borough. Businesses commit to providing a refill facility which is promoted through an online map and window stickers.

In addition to helping to tackle the plastic issue at source, participating businesses help to combat climate change and benefit from the large awareness-raising campaign supporting this initiative, which ultimately increases their business reputation and attracts new customers.

New Guidance

Scientists have confirmed that reusables are safe to use during COVID-19, as long as they are cleaned properly. They found that single-use plastics are no safer than any other material. The statement means it’s safe for both Refill Station staff and the public to use and accept reusable bottles, cups and containers provided standard government food safety advice for health and hygiene is followed.

Refill have now created guidance for Refill Stations on safely accepting reusable bottles for drinking water refills.

Checklist for Refill Stations

The following steps can be taken to minimise risk when interacting with the public (e.g. when selling food or drinks):

  • minimising contact
  • creating physical screens
  • cleaning the workplace
  • providing site guidance on social distancing and hygiene etc.

If the above is followed, it will be safe for Refill Stations to continue to offer free drinking water refills to their customers.

As there are different ways in which stations offer refills, guidance has been developed for four options for safely accepting reusable bottles.

Advice for Refill Stations offering over the counter water Refills

Option 1 – Contactless Refills

  1. Create a designated area on the counter for the customer to place their reusable water bottle on a tray. We suggest using the Refill water bottle sticker, please get in touch if you’d like us to send you one.
  2. Customer removes lid from reusable water bottle, places the clean bottle on the tray on the counter then steps away.
  3. Server steps forwards, pours water from a jug (ideally with a lid) into the bottle without touching the bottle and steps back.
  4. Customer steps forward, takes the bottle and moves away from counter before putting the lid back on.

Option 2 – Using a Barrier

  1. Customer removes lid from reusable water bottle, places the clean bottle on the sticker / tray on the counter then steps away.
  2. Server takes the bottle, using blue roll or a tissue to hold it (please don’t use disposable plastic!).
  3. Server fills the bottle from a tap and places it back on the counter removing the tissue / blue roll.
  4. Customer picks up the bottle and replaces the lid.
  5. Server washes hands for 20 seconds

Advice for Refill Stations offering customer self-refills of water bottles

  1. Business creates designated Refill area – this should be a clearly marked space. We recommend using a closed container such as a large Kilner jar or a jug with a lid as this will remove the risk of contamination through respiration.
  2. Customer washes hands thoroughly and uses hand sanitiser provided at the Refill Station before and after touching the jug or tap. Refill Stations may also want to provide paper tissue for the customer to use when touching the Refill container.
  3. Customer pours water from Refill container into clean water bottle without touching the top of the bottle.
  4. At regular time slots, staff clean down the Refill Station and container.
  5. When Refilling the container, staff should wear a face covering to avoid contamination from respiration.
  6. The customer should maintain social distancing whilst queueing to use the water Refill Station.

Advice for Refill Stations offering water refills from a drinking water fountain

Water fountains should be maintained regularly as per standard guidelines.

  1. The fountain user queues a safe distance from the fountain and from anyone else waiting to use it. (Check the latest government advice for your local area on the recommended social distance guidelines).
  2. The user should wash their hands thoroughly or use hand sanitiser before and after touching the button/any part of the fountain.
  3. The user is advised to use an elbow/ back of hand/ knee to operate the fountain if hand washing facilities/hand sanitiser is not available. The user should be careful to not sneeze or cough in the direction of the fountain.
  4. The fountain user should let the water flow for 10 seconds before refilling their water bottle to ensure the water is fresh.
  5. The user should avoid touching the waterspout or water nozzle with their water bottle or their hands.
  6. The fountain needs to be regularly cleaned by the organisation who is responsible for maintaining the potability of the water.