The International Bottled Water Association(IBWA;www.bottledwater.org) says that a decision by the University of Vermont to ban the sale of bottled water, while at the same time mandating that vending machines contain 1/3 healthy beverages, sends a contradictory and confusing message to its students. The decision also restricts freedom of choice for students to choose one of the healthiest beverages available in vending machines.
“The university has failed to understand that bottled
water is most often an alternative to other packaged drinks, which are often
less healthy, and is not necessarily an alternative to tap water,” says Chris
Hogan, IBWA Vice President of Communications.
“Research by owners of vending machines shows when
bottled water is not available in a vending machine, people choose other
packaged beverages, which may contain sugar, caffeine and other additives. They
don’t necessarily go looking for a drinking water fountain,” says Mr. Hogan.
IBWA notes the irony that the university-wide ban
coincides with a mandate that vending machines contain 1/3 healthy beverages,
while obviously excluding bottled water as a healthy beverage.
“It’s a misguided attempt to deal with a waste issue, that
would be better addressed through improved recycling rates of all packaged
drinks,” says Mr. Hogan. “Bottled water containers are the most highly recycled
containers in curbside programs, and the EPA has calculated that plastic
bottled water containers make up just 0.03% of the U.S. wastestream. So,
getting rid of bottled water on campus will not make a significant improvement
to waste issues.”
“Instead, students will turn to other packaged drinks,
which still require proper recycling collection facilities,” he adds. “I would
encourage students, if they want to make a real difference for the environment,
to focus their efforts of improving recycling rates of all beverages, not
single out one the healthiest drinks on the shelf.
“Stocking the vending machines with teas and enhanced
waters as an option to sugary drinks does nothing to help a student looking for
pure clean safe water that does not have a the taste of chlorine. Removing the students’ freedom to choose
packaged water is a serious issue. Telling students that they can or cannot buy
bottled water is a step backwards, especially with the growing rates of obesity
and diabetes in the U.S.”
Mr. Hogan speculated whether UVM administrators would now
face similar backlash from its students as the state of Vermont faced from its
workers when it attempted a similar ban last year. In June 2011, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D)
postponed a state bottled water ban after workers voiced concerns over access
to drinking water.
"Many, many state employees have brought forward
logistical and other concerns that I think we carefully need to consider before
we trigger on this policy," says Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding
"There were enough situations raised (by employees)
that we, in good conscience, couldn't ignore them," says Spaulding.
"We're at a point where our state workforce, over the last few years, has
been under a great deal of stress, with fewer employees doing the same amount
of work, and taking pay cuts. It's important, as an employer, to do what you
can to support the morale of your team."
College bottled water ban fails students
February 14, 2012