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Bottled water sales to end

 

The University of Toronto is ending bottled water sales on all of its campuses in response to a student campaign. Although bottled water won’t be banned on the UTSC campus, after Oct. 31 it will not be provided at university functions, sold in vending machines or by on-campus restaurants and vendors.

Instead, the university will install new water fountains and filling stations to make it easier for students, staff and faculty to fill up their own reusable bottles.

The decision comes after three years of discussion with the Public Water Initiative (PWI), a U of T student group. PWI argues that bottled water is environmentally harmful, since plastic water bottles require resources to make and often end up in landfills. Selling water for a profit also erodes support for publicly provided water. The group says that access to water is a human right and should remain under public control.

The PWI is especially concerned that many Canadians wrongly think that bottled water is safer than publicly-supplied water. In fact, public water is tested more frequently and more thoroughly than bottled water, the group says. Bottled water also depletes aquifers and leads to significant net losses of water from the generating watershed.

In a survey in March, more than 80 percent of U of T students said they supported an end to bottled water sales on campus. The issue now, says Tim Lang, UTSC sustainability coordinator, is to make sure that water is easily available on campus.

“We recognize that we need to replace the ubiquity of bottled water. We’re committed to trying to make water as available as ever,” Lang says.

Beginning this year, the university will install new bottle filling stations and upgrade old water fountains. The filling stations will have high goose-neck spouts under which a bottle can be easily placed. The first planned locations for the filling stations will be the Student Centre, outside the library, in the Science Wing and near the vending machines above the Meeting Place.

Eventually filling stations will be located in every building on campus. The university will also develop educational campaigns and signs to make it easy to find water on campus.

 




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