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Strewth Bruce! Aussie university bans PET bottles

By Kate Tilley, Plastics News
Posted 10 February 2011
An Australian university has banned the sale of water in PET bottles on its campus. The University of Canberra (UC), in Bruce, a suburb of Canberra, will eliminate an estimated 140,000 PET bottles from being sold annually.

UC is Australia’s first university to ban sales of bottled water and, with a campus population of almost 13,000 students and staff, organisers say the ban is the largest of its kind in Australia.

Instead of purchasing bottled water, students and staff will have access to drinking fountains and bottle refill stations that dispense filtered water. The Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister’s Department contributed $76,000 to fund the new refill stations.

Students and staff also will be offered a chilled water alternative to bottled water from water vending machines.

The machines dispense filtered, flash-chilled still, sparkling or flavoured water into customers’ own refillable containers. Refillable bottles will be sold on campus.

The ban was initiated by students and assisted by Sydney-based action group Do Something!. The group is a not-for-profit organization that builds alliances between businesses, governments and communities to promote environmental and social issues.

Do Something! founder Jon Dee said UC’s ban is a model that can be adopted by other universities.

“It will help universities, as more students are starting to take a university’s green credentials into account when they decide where to study,” Dee said.

The ban was introduced Jan. 21 and all sales of bottled water on campus will end by March 22.

A similar ban was implemented at Bundanoon, a small town southwest of Sydney, in 2009, where all sales of bottled water were banned and only refillable bottles sold.

When bottled water alternatives were officially launched late September 2009, Bundanoon became Australia’s first PET bottled water-free town.

As part of the initiative, Bundanoon businesses only sell reusable bottles to fill with chilled, filtered tap water and free filtered-water stations and drinking fountains are provided for the public.

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