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Every drop counts! Less plastic shines!
City/Region : Municipality of Barreiro , Portugal

Our idea is to encourage people to drink tap water using reusable bottles and to refill them from sustainable refill stations, for a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable city, promoting the image of the city and its actions and also the renovation of these important facilities making them more attractive in urban terms as well.

The goal is the installation of these facilities in strategic places outdoors encouraging tap water consumption and to contribute to reduce the number of plastic bottles by increasing confidence in tap water and improving and facilitating its access.

Agendas addressed
DecarbonisationWater resources and air qualityClimate change
Public spaceSocial inclusion and integrationLocal economies and employment
Pathways followed
  • Ensure equal access to municipal services
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Accelerate sustainability and innovation through public procurement
  • Guarantee equal access to information & digital services
Context
Proposal for new sustainable refill fountains to replace the existing ones.

Barreiro is an urban city, with an area of 38 km2 and 78,000 inhabitants. The water supply system covers 100% of the population. The indicator of safe water in 2019 was 99.86%. We capture water from the largest aquifer system in the Iberian Peninsula - the Tejo-Sado. It is a raw water of excellent quality and we must preserve it. Once captured, the water is stored and distributed and to prevent microbiological contamination along the network the water is disinfected, which is the only treatment used.

For these reasons and taking into account the quality of the product, it is essential to promote the consumption of tap water, reducing the use of bottled water, promoting decarbonization, assuming access to water for all, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized.

Promoting a network of drinking fountains throughout the city will help to fulfill these objectives as well as promoting the city's image.

In Action
Proposal for sustainable refill bottle water to promote the tap water and the image of the city.

Barreiro is working to be an increasingly green city. It renewed the fleet of public buses, which transport thousands of people every day, to buses powered by gas; replaced part of its fleet of light vehicles for hybrid and electric cars, at several critical intersections in the city, roundabouts were built to facilitate traffic and eliminate traffic lights; replaced the current public lighting network with an environmentally friendly LED system, there are 11,000 lamps that will also enhance the safety and quality of life of residents.

Barreiro is also involved in Metropolitan Plan for Climate Change Adaptation, which involves the eighteen municipalities of metropolitan area of Lisbon, in order to reduce vulnerability and to adapt the strategies of the municipality to climate change.

A project is underway to use the wastewater treated at the WWTP for use in cleaning public spaces and watering green spaces, promoting circular economy. Hard work has been done to reduce water losses. Water is a finite resource and every drop counts. Thus, it makes sense to include yet another project that aims to encourage the consumption of tap water and that makes a tangible contribution to commitments made under:

  • The ‘Right2Water’ European Citizens ’Initiative, signed by 1.6 million European citizens;
  • The European Pillar of Social Rights: the right to access essential services of good quality, including water;
  • The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 6): Access to clean water and sanitation;
  • The EU Plastics Strategy: Better quality water is expected to reduce bottled water consumption by 17%;
  • The Paris Agreement objectives on climate change adaptation: Reducing the consumption of bottled water, estimated to go down from 100 to 88 litres per year by 2050, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.2 million tonnes CO2.
Results
Existing fountains across the municipality.

Firstly, the intention is to install 8 drinking fountains in strategic locations in the municipality and distribute 1000 sustainable water bottles with a brand image. The objective is to distribute water for human consumption and quantify this volume, for a certain period, to determine the equivalent amount in reduction water bottles.

After the initial phase and confirming the expected results, the intention is to expand the initiative and install more water fountains in schools, health centres, markets, public parks, in the main squares and streets of the city.

Water fountains are easily identified by their design. They are equipped with a device to measure the amount of water used and thus show users the equivalent number of disposable plastic bottles that have been avoided.

It is estimated that one million plastic bottles are sold per minute on the planet, that is, 20,000 are purchased every second in the world, according to the Global Packaging Trends Report of the consultancy Euromonitor International.

With this action we can touch on the dynamization of the local economy, we involve the population in this objectives through the dissemination and exploitation campaigns, we must also involve local trade, we promote the improvement of environmental quality and the waste and reduction of plastic.

Impact

Tap water costs about € 0.002 per litre and we know that bottled water is much more expensive. Reducing bottle water consumption, we can help families in Barreiro saving many € a year. The project will improve access to tap water for all, especially, for vulnerable and marginalized groups.

We want to prevent millions of single-use plastic water bottles from being used. To that everyone, everywhere, should know how easy it is to find free and high-quality tap water to take, as well as, refilling should be so easy, convenient, prevalent and accessible to the general public in Barreiro to remove the ‘convenience’ factor of purchasing single-use plastic water bottles.

We want to normalise the culture of refilling by providing the infrastructure (and over time making bottled water consumption an isolated and exceptional act).

We want to remove the barrier people have around the hygiene/cleanliness of using public drinking water fountains.

Water fountains are equipped with a device to measure the amount of water used and thus show users the equivalent number of disposable plastic bottles that have been avoided.

We also intend to develop personalized bottles made by sustainable materials with Barreiro lettering and a special text "every drop counts" to make them a brand image. By using and reusing our water bottles, we can reduce the amount of plastic waste produced.

Our bottles will be BPA-free and completely dishwasher-proof.

They are made from sugar cane, a green alternative to ordinary plastic.

Challenges and lessons learned

After the initial phase, we intend to replicate the project and disseminate it, with the goal that other municipalities can follow the same path. We have the ambition to contribute to a better city, a better environment, engage the population, engage the local trade, consume excellent water and save money. We want to give a very positive and sustainable image of our city. Every drop counts and our likes count a lot!

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Contact

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

Leopoldring 3
79098 Freiburg
Germany

Tel.: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 0
Fax: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 19

E-mail: info@sustainablecities.eu
Website: www.sustainablecities.eu

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