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App keeps police cool in summer heatwave – and helps cut plastic waste

A new app is helping police officers in Scotland stay cool in the summer heatwave by directing them to free water refill stations across the country.

The Refill app was launched to coincide with The Open golf tournament at the weekend, which was celebrating its 150th anniversary at the St Andrew’s golf course.

The app has been rolled out to around 15,000 police mobile phones, listing 1,000 refill sites across Scotland, including public water fountains, cafes, bars and pubs. It follows an earlier version aimed at the public, which lists more than 274,000 free refill stations globally.

The sites have signed up to be part of a campaign by environmental charity City to Sea as part of a drive to reduce single-use plastic. The charity estimates that if every staff member and officer with the Refill app downloaded used it just once a week to refill a water bottle, the force would save more than 1 million plastic bottles in a year.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie, of Police Scotland, said: “I’m hoping officers will find this app useful while they’re on duty, especially in the warmer months or during large-scale public events.”

The announcement comes off the back of the ‘truly alarming’ amounts of microplastics found off the Scottish coast found in a recent study. Scottish Government estimates that more than 90% of plastic in Scottish seas comes from Scottish littering on land, while Greenpeace’s claims that recycling alone isn’t the fix to plastic pollution.

Polling by City to Sea and Friends of the Earth Scotland found that 88% of Scots were concerned about plastic pollution and 68% of people in Scotland would like to see more refill options.

City to Sea’s Ludo McCormick commented: “We hope that this project will not only encourage officers to refill when at work but also inspire them to champion refill and reuse when they are out and about with friends and family.”