Should Food Outlets Be Required to Provide Free Water? - Billi UK


Latest news

Should All Food Outlets Be Required to Provide Free Water?

Force Food Outlets to Provide Free Water Say MPs

As the battle against plastic waste intensifies, MPs are suggesting all food outlets should be required to provide free water. After a trip advisor review in 2016 made news where a lady was charged £2 for a glass of hot water with lemon – are cafes and sandwich shops really going to want to give out water for free?

The argument for charging for water from one individual was that serving the water still costs money. The staff that pour the water, and bring it to you are still being paid. If you’re drinking that free water from a glass it still has to be washed and put away. Mike Fisher, owner of Bennett’s Café & Bistro in York said: “It’s actually the facilities that cost the money, far more so than the ingredients.” So, whether it’s water or another beverage – the staff waiting on you still need to be paid. Rent still must be paid. Is that a valid enough argument when plastic waste is at such a critical stage though?


MP’s are suggesting that food outlets should have to provide fresh drinking water for free. This is in a desperate attempt to reduce plastic bottle usage across the UK. There is consideration about making it a legal requirement. All food and drink retailers would have to provide fresh drinking water.

The head of an influential Commons committee, Mary Creagh has accused the government of “dragging its feet” on the plastic bottle crisis. Action needs to be taken. The government must go one step further and make it a legal requirement to provide drinking water. “The UK has safe, clean tap water and failing to provide it leads to unnecessary use of plastic water bottles which clog up our river and seas.”

The Current Situation

Current law states that only licensed restaurants and bars must provide drinking water free of charge. However, they are still allowed to charge for the service, and the glass. Often too, people feel uncomfortable ordering tap water, as it can be frowned upon by those working in the food industry. 71 percent of people, according to research by BRITA UK, feel uncomfortable asking for a glass of tap water. If you’re going to be charged for the glass and service, surely it’s better to order another drink. Free water can give off the impression of being a cheapskate – but it’s time for the public opinion on this to change.

The UK alone drinks its way through 38.5 million plastic bottles every day. These bottles take a massive 450 years to biodegrade, and around 700,000 end up as litter on the streets. This plastic waste crisis is why we’re so proud that Billi helps to reduce plastic bottle waste. Our taps provide instant chilled and hot water at the touch of a button, thus reducing the need for single-use plastic bottles. Staff that work where our systems are installed no longer need plastic bottles. They can bring their own multi-use metal or glass bottles, and refill them at our water points around the office.

For more advice on how to switch to a Billi system, and play your part against the war on plastic bottles. Contact one of our sales team at