Northern Ireland Water (NI Water) has welcomed the first council to its #Refillution campaign, which aims to cut down on single use plastics by encouraging reusable water bottles.

According to NI Water, Northern Ireland uses 145 million single use plastic bottles every year.

The new partnership with Ards and North Down Borough Council will see the council encourage local businesses to sign up to support the campaign, who will display a sticker in their windows and allow the public to refill reusable bottles with tap water.

Water companies have launched similar schemes in other parts of the UK, such as Thames Water, who have partnered with the mayor of London in a £5 million project after a successful pilot. In September last year, Severn Trent and Thames Water were among the water companies who took part in the first “National Refill Day.”

Angela Halpenny, NI Water head of environmental regulation, said: “We are delighted Ards and North Down Council are the first to help us take this message right across the borough. We are hopeful other councils, agencies and stakeholders will come on board in advance of the national Refill launch on 19 June when everyone is being asked to ditch single use plastic water bottles and switch to a reusable one that can be refilled from the tap!”

David Lindsay, director of environment Ards and North Down Borough Council added: “The council is on a mission to take a ‘StAND for Sustainability’ and since its inception in 2015 we have been working hard to develop a wide range of progressive initiatives that will help us balance environmental, social and economic wellbeing, both locally and globally.

“We are extremely proud that this partnership with NI Water on #Refillution will further demonstrate our determination to act in ways that will make a real difference, both directly, and indirectly by providing civic leadership to our residential and business communities.

“An estimated 38.5 million plastic bottles are consumed every day in the UK, and if we can demonstrate our collective ability to resolve the environmental damage created by this totally unnecessary statistic, we can set a tone and pace for progress on other important issues that threaten a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren.”

In January last year the water industry joined forces with the Refill campaign to create a national network.

The “ambitious drive” will see refill points in every major city and town in England by 2021.

City to Sea is the driving force behind the national Refill scheme.