At YHA (England & Wales), we’re set to eradicate half a million single use plastic bottles from our 151-strong network of youth hostels next year thanks to support from Waitrose & Partners.
We are honoured to have received a £170,000 share of the supermarket retailer’s £1 million grant fund – ‘Plan Plastic – the Million Pound Challenge’ – which awards money to projects that demonstrate an impact to reduce plastic.
We currently use 450,000 plastic bottles annually in packed lunches for school trips as well as selling a further 50,000 water bottles in our hostel cafes, bars and vending machines.
The grant will enable us to install free-to-use water bottle refill stations in 60 major youth hostels, fast tracking the plan to have refill stations at the majority of our youth hostels in England and Wales.
Last year, as part of the drive to reduce plastic waste across our network, we trialled water bottle refill stations at a small number of hostels. Following the award of the grant, water bottles will no longer be supplied in packed lunches from September this year and will cease to be sold in Youth Hostels by December 2020.
The new refill stations will be situated in the reception and high footfall areas of hostels and are free to use by both guests and visitors.
Commenting, James Blake Chief Executive of YHA (England & Wales) said: “We owe Waitrose & Partners huge thanks for the grant. It has enabled us to bring forward our ambitious plans to eradicate single use plastic bottles from the network.
“We are passionate about the great outdoors and preserving it for future generations to use and benefit from. YHA has a 90-year relationship with the great outdoors and we want to be at the forefront of eco-tourism – respecting the habitats we’re in and encouraging the thousands of young people and their families that stay with us each year to appreciate nature and wildlife.
“Minimising our carbon footprint is a key priority for us and this grant will significantly assist in our commitment to a sustainable environment.”
Our Refill Scheme was one of five projects selected from 150 applications to receive a share of the fund which has been raised from the sale of 5p carrier bags prior to the retailer removing them from its shops.
The move to completely eradicate single use plastic bottles from the network is one of a number of green measures we have introduced since 2011 as part of our Green Spirit Plan in order to reduce its carbon footprint. Other more recent initiatives include:
- The removal of plastic drinking straws and stirrers from all hostels, saving 100,000 units each year.
- The installation of electric car charging points at National Office.
- The replacement of paper towels with hand dryers in a number of hostels. At YHA Ambleside alone the hand dryer roll-out will save more than 476,000 individual paper towels from being used every year.
- The installation of LED lighting at National Office in February 2019 has so far saved 7.5 tonnes of carbon (total of 22 tonnes per year).
- The replacement of the plastic YHA membership cards with cardboard cards.
To discover where we has installed water refill stations to date, please visit our website.