Pret A Manger has added filtered water refill points to 250 of its stores in a bid to help customers reduce the number of plastic bottles they’re using.

This means around two-thirds of the UK’s Pret stores now have free filtered water at water fountains on the shop floor. These are available for use by any member of the public, even if they’re not making a purchase at Pret. 

Research commissioned in 2018 by City to Sea campaign Refill found that one in three (34%) adults in the UK felt uncomfortable asking for a reusable bottle to be filled at a restaurant or café when they hadn’t bought anything. One in five (19%) still felt uncomfortable asking even when they had made a purchase.

Pret said the installation of filtered water fountains was designed to address this concern, allowing people to refill their water bottles without worrying about asking.

“Although we already offered drinking water on request at all of our shops, we know that behaviour is most likely to change if we can enable people to fill up themselves, rather than having to ask a team member at the counter,” said Laura Gutowski, director of strategy and sustainability at Pret.

“If each of our water stations is used just 10 times a day, we could save around a million plastic bottles a year, and that is great motivation to continue rolling them out.”

A further 90 Pret stores have free filtered water available behind the counter, where the public can ask staff to refill their reusable water bottles.

Thirty-five more units are planned for installation later this year, which will mean free filtered water is available at over 95% of Pret stores.

Pret has previously trialled a number of initiatives to encourage customers to reduce the number of plastic bottles they use, including introducing filtered water fountains at 70 shops, and a deposit return scheme to increase plastic bottle recycling.

It also partnered with reusable bottle brand Chilly’s in 2018 to create three exclusive designs for its stores. Pret has now teamed up with the brand again to create a fourth bottle, with a new design featuring a brightly coloured peacock, made of pears, kiwis, blueberries and dill.