SOME 20 local businesses in Banbury and Bicester have signed up to offer free tap water refills.

The new refill scheme was launched with the help of Banbury MP Victoria Prentis last week.

It is branded as a way of cutting litter levels and protecting the marine environment by reducing our reliance on disposable plastic water bottles.

The initiative seeks to connect thirsty people with cafes, shops and offices willing to offer free tap water refills.

Participating businesses register with an app and also place a sticker in their window alerting passers-by that they are a refill site, regardless of whether they are customers or not.

Research conducted by Bicester-based business Brita UK – which is sponsoring the scheme – and Keep Britain Tidy earlier this year revealed that 59 per cent of us would be more likely to use a reusable water bottle if refills were more freely available in places such as shops, airports and parks.

Mrs Prentis said: "Disposable bottles can be so damaging to the environment, but they are often hard to avoid, especially when out and about.

"The simplest solutions are usually the most effective; refill enables people to do their bit while going about their everyday lives."