International Bottled Water Association Criticizes University Of Vermont Bottled Water Ban

March 12, 2012

As a part of   growing efforts at American schools to reduce plastic waste and save students' money by promoting tap water, the University of Vermont (UVM) has announced it will  ban  the sale of bottled water on campus. According to International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), the ban sends a contradictory and confusing message to the students.

Although  a dozen universities in the US have stopped  sales of bottled water over the past three years, including University of Wisconsin Stevens Point,  University of Portland and Washington University in St. Louis,  UVM with its 11,500 undergraduate students is the largest one so far to do so.  The ban  is scheduled to take effect in January 2013.

UVM reportedly also plans to convert up to 75 water fountains to water-bottle refilling stations, and the student environmental group will be selling 1 dollar stainless steel water bottles to promote drinking tap water.

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) said in a statement that the UVM decision 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. IBWA also noted that the decision 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,” said Chris Hogan, IBWA Vice President of Communications.

According to Hogan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has calculated that plastic water bottle containers make up just 0.03 % of the U.S. waste stream. He predicted that students will instead turn to other packaged drinks that still require proper recycling collection facilities and encouraged students wanting to make a real difference for the environment to focus their efforts on improving recycling rates of all beverages, instead of “singling out one of 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”, Hogan said. “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.”

IBWA has released a YouTube video addressing the college bottled water ban issue.
Watch the video.

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