World Refill Day encourages Aussies to avoid single-use plastics

by Sophie Berrill
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World Refill Day

Refill – the forgotten cousin of reduce, reuse and recycle – gets centre stage this Friday 16 June for World Refill Day.

An initiative of UK environmental organisation City to Sea, World Refill Day aims to prevent plastic pollution and help people live with less waste. The campaign is designed to accelerate the transition away from single-use plastic and towards refill and reuse systems.

“Globally, we use millions of tonnes every year and it’s becoming clear that we can’t recycle our way out of our plastic problem,” the campaign’s website reads.

“Plastic is not only polluting our planet, and contributing to the climate crisis, but it’s making its way into our bodies through the air we breathe and the food we eat. Plastic production and disposal, especially via incineration or landfill, disproportionately impacts communities of colour, low-income communities and Indigenous communities by polluting the air, water, and soil that we need to survive.”

The campaign celebrates the cumulative impact of small changes on an individual level, like replacing disposable coffee cups and milk cartons with their refillable alternatives. Last year, World Refill Day also gathered signatures from 450 organisations on an open letter asking the world’s biggest plastic polluters to take action to reduce their plastic footprint and invest in refill and reuse.

How to get involved

This year’s campaign includes its first digital refill and reuse summit, bringing together brands, businesses, activists, campaigners and researchers. Businesses can also use campaign collateral and take other small measures to make refilling the new normal.

One Aussie business playing its small part is Pilot Pen Australia. The company is trialling a new initiative called ‘Don’t bin it, refill it’, which encourages Australian businesses to switch from binning to refilling their pens. This initiative comes ahead of the government’s announcement last week on new rules mandating packaging design standards and targets – including for recycled content and to address the use of harmful chemicals in food packaging.

“The trial will help us understand what office workers are doing with their plastic pens on a day-to-day basis and will help us work towards developing solutions down the track,” says Pilot Pen Australia head of marketing Jarrad Murray.

“Recycling has its place, however re-filling is higher up on the waste prevention hierarchy as it’s about avoiding plastic waste by extending the life of a product. We are hoping our initiative will help office workers adopt a ‘refilling’ mind-set when it comes to office supplies.”

Recap on Victoria’s single-use plastics ban from earlier this year.

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