FREE water fountains will be installed across Bury as part of a campaign to tackle plastic pollution.

The first bottle filling fountain was installed in St Mary’s Park in Prestwich this week as part of the Refill campaign, which is launching across Greater Manchester.

Bury has been selected as a pilot area for the scheme, which means that a further three fountains will installed across the borough in the coming months.

An indoor fountain has been planned for Prestwich Library, while an additional two public refilling stations are planned for Ramsbottom and Radcliffe in the coming months.

Councillor Alan Quinn, Bury Council’s cabinet member for the environment, said: “More and more people are becoming aware of the dangers to the environment of plastic waste. We need to reduce the amount of plastic waste we consume especially single use plastic bottles. Providing these public water fountains will enable local residents to re fill their own bottles and help win the war on plastic waste.”

The scheme aims to build a network of free indoor and outdoor water refilling stations across the region to reduce the number of plastic bottles going into our waterways.

The Refill campaign, which was set up by not-for-profit City to Sea, works by connecting people who are looking for water, with thousands of local business, transport hubs and public spaces where they can refill for free via a location-based app. Anyone can download the app to find stations near them.

Cafes, bars, restaurants, banks, galleries, museums and other businesses are invited to join the scheme and can do so by signing up to the app and putting a sticker in their window to show passers-by that they are welcome to fill up their bottle there. The new fountains in Bury have been funded by Eunomia and the pilot is in partnership with Refill, United Utilities and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) as part of the Mayor’s Plastic Free GM Campaign.

The bottle filling fountain in St Mary’s Park will be switched on on Monday as part of the Mayor’s Green Summit.

Sarah Irving, Refill’s regional coordinator said: “Refill encourages more people to take one small step away from relying on single use plastic bottles. It’s a really simple concept with a really big potential result and with access to outdoor bottle refilling stations as well as café taps, it has become far easier to refill on the go.”

The average adult buys more than three plastic water bottles every week and a startling 175 bottles every year per person.

In total, 7.7 billion plastic water bottles are bought across the UK each year, resulting in substantial amounts of single-use plastic waste ending up in our oceans.

Chris Matthews, head of sustainability, United Utilities said: “We hope this will spur on the community to get behind the campaign to reduce the number of single use plastic bottles and enjoy great tasting water on tap.”

There are now more than 17,000 refill stations signed up in the UK - including railway stations, airports and high street chains such as Costa, Starbucks and Wetherspoons.