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New project aims to slash use of single-use plastics

The Nautilus Project 15-03-2018 (Photo John Bugeja) Minister John Cortes attend the Nautilus Project together with AquaGib and the Hunter Group and officially launch the re-fill.

A collaboration, called #Refill, between The Hunter Group, NGO The Nautilus Project and AquaGib was officially launched at the Piazza yesterday and welcomed by the Minister for the Environment Dr John Cortes.

The project saw the distribution of 1,000 aluminium refillable water bottles to members of the public in a bid to reduce the usage of single use plastics on the Rock.

#Refill is the brainchild of Director of Business Development for the Hunter Group, Dominique Penalver, who was working in the Gibraltar Arms one day when she heard schoolkids “messing” in the toilets.

It turns out they were not messing but getting a drink of water as they did not want to use their pocket money to buy plastic bottle of water. Mrs Penalver told them they could come and get a refill whenever they wished.

This set the ball rolling on what today has become the #refill project. She “spoke to Lewis Stagnetto, a marine biologist at the Nautilus Project and then AquaGib got on board and this happened,” she said.

“I am very pleased, I think the highlight for me is that other locations and other establishments in Gibraltar have actually come up to us and ask us for the raindrop logo [used for #refill] today. Hopefully soon we will have raindrops in every single restaurant in Gibraltar,” she added.

Darren Cruz, Senior Manager for water production, said: “this incentive was brought to our attention by the Hunter Group and the Nautilus Project and they had the aim of targeting the use of single use plastic due to the use of plastics polluting the oceans.”

“We came up with the idea of bringing in refillable aluminium bottles and the Hunter Group having seven restaurants amongst them offered to refill these bottles for free, just as long as you take this particular bottle with you,” he added.

Looking towards the future there are plans to bring in water fountains into town, “one of the first incentives will be launched during the Island Games next year. There will be water fountains in the new schools as well,” he said.

Mr Stagnetto is pleased and excited about how the #refill project has developed and that incentives like this continue to grow.

“We have had an amazing community response, all these successes are down to the community response without them we would have got anywhere. They have listened to the message and people have made small changes in their lives and it has started to make an impact on the environment in general,” he said.

“We hope that now we can going into the summer when people are at the beaches and that people be a little more conscience and reduce that impact going forward,” he added.

Dr Cortes said: “I am very happy to support this, both as the Minister for Environment and as Chairman of AquaGib, it is great to see an NGO and a company providing one of Gibraltar’s utilities coming together for the environment.”

“It is great also to see the Hunter Group willing to support it and I think what is happening now is that it is gaining more traction as everybody is aware and everybody is now beginning at least to think about dropping plastic not on the floor or in the sea but dropping its use altogether.”

He also noted that more incentives and projects are in the process of being lined up regarding the use of plastics on the Rock.

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