Durham University has become the first university in the North of England - and only the second in the UK - to sign up to a growing environmental initiative aimed at reducing plastic waste.

The Refill campaign was launched in the North East in November by Northumbrian Water, with businesses across Durham signing up to allow the public to come in and top up their water bottles, free of charge, cutting the number of single-use plastic bottles.


Starting this week at the beginning of Easter term, Durham University′s 11 public cafés will now be offering this service to the public, after signing up to become Refill Stations. This includes ten sites in Durham City* and the Waterside Café at Queen′s Campus, Stockton.


Northumbrian Water has been working with the not-for-profit organisation, City To Sea, to bring Refill to the North East, and more than 250 businesses - ranging from cafés and restaurants to churches - have signed up.


Businesses can put stickers in their windows to encourage people to top up on their premises, and they can also register on the Refill app, so that members of the public can find them and use the station.


Heidi Mottram, Chief Executive of Northumbrian Water, said: "Durham University joining the Refill campaign is an exciting opportunity, not only to open more Refill Stations, but to bring the power of the student population to the forefront of this exciting environmental movement.


"We know that there is a real passion across the North East to make a difference when it comes to plastic waste, and this is particularly strong among younger people, so we are really looking forward to seeing the impact from the University′s involvement in Refill."


Durham University′s Chief Operating Officer, Jane Robinson, said: "We all have a part to play in protecting and enhancing our natural environment for future generations.


"Signing up to the Refill campaign helps transform our commitment to improving environmental sustainability from words into meaningful actions. We hope others will do the same and support this fantastic initiative."


President of Durham Students Union, Megan Croll, said: "This year Durham Students′ Union has shown commitment to reduce single use plastics. For example, we no longer put straws into drinks served at our bars, and we are looking to provide reusable, rather than single use cups, in our café. We enthusiastically welcome the opportunity to be part of this campaign and we hope that students across Durham will engage with this to help to protect our environment."


Gus Hoyt, Refill Programme Manager at City To Sea, said: "This is really exciting news! If every university followed Durham′s example and addressed tackling single-use plastics at source we′d be a long way towards fixing this looming environmental issue.


"Refill was born to help leave a better planet for the next generation and it is fantastic to see students fully embrace this initiative for themselves."


The eleven sites are:
1. Library Café
2. Calman Café
3. Palatine Centre Restaurant
4. Chemistry Café
5. Botanic Garden Visitor Centre
6. Oriental Museum
7. Fusion Restaurant - Durham University Business School
8. Café on the Green
9. Palace Green Library
10. Maiden Castle Café
11. Waterside Café - Queen′s Campus, Stockton.


The Refill app can be downloaded on smart phones and tablets, while more information about the campaign is available at www.refill.org.uk.