University Students say No to plastic bottles

9 August, 2013

UWA University News

Students have saved up to 15,833 plastic water bottles from going to landfill this semester.

But they haven’t been going thirsty.

In February the Sustainable Development Office installed a filtered water refill station in the Guild courtyard. The refill station is the first of several that Recycling and Waste Management Coordinator, Alain Twynham, aims to have installed across campus to help decrease the number of plastic bottles that make their way into landfill.

Alain said 9,500 litres of water had been used from the refill station. “That’s equivalent to 15,833 600ml bottles,” he said.

The free refill station promotes a healthier lifestyle for students and staff. It is connected to the mains water supply, and filters out chlorine and other chemicals.

There has been immense support and positive feedback, especially from students.

“The water station is very popular and will hopefully permanently reduce the number of plastic bottles from UWA that end up in landfill,” said Trish Howard from Sustainability Projects.

The Student Guild was supportive of the refill station’s installation in the village and its associated environmental and health benefits.

Say NO to plastic bottles!

Read the full story at UWA University News

Photo courtesy of UWA

aquafil™ Water Refill Stations and Drinking Fountains

Water is essential for healthy living and is crucial for sporting, mental and academic performances. Tap water represents value for money as it’s cheaper for the community than buying bottled water or other soft drinks.

The aquafil range of Water Bottle Refill Stations and Drinking Fountains serve as a dynamic educational tool in the fight to reduce plastic waste and conserve precious resources. Full colour graphics are available on most of the aquafil range and are a valuable educational tool in helping promote a sustainable way of living and encouraging a healthy lifestyle.

Water cannot be organic

July 18, 2013

Water cannot be organic according to standards stating that it cannot be. Organic, when used to refer to food and drink, refers to the farming practices of agricultrural products and as water is not an agricultural product it can not be described as organic.

As a result there have been a number of brand name changes recently due to an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) directive for water companies to remove ‘organic’ claims from their labeling and branding. The ACCC rejected a number of claims from manufacturers claiming the word ‘organic’ was not a representation but part of their brand name.

“Organic standards acknowledge that water cannot be organic. Any claim that particular water is organic would therefore be misleading or deceptive, and manufacturers cannot hide misleading claims in their brand name,” Delia Rickard, ACCC Deputy Chair said.

The manufacturers identified have already begun supplying bottles with amended labels. The ACCC said it expects that organic claims will soon have largely disappeared from the labels of bottled water at retail outlets.

The ACCC has called on consumers who see brands of bottled water featuring organic claims to contact the ACCC and retailers who still have stock should contact their distributors. The ACCC  will continue to monitor the progress of the changes and will “engage further with retailers and manufacturers if further work needs to be undertaken”.

Read the full article at ACCC

Picture courtesy of the ACCC


Yarra Valley Water encourages customers to Choose Tap

Case Study

July 3, 2013

Saving dollars and our environment

Yarra Valley Water’s ‘Choose Tap’ program engages the community on drinking tap water as an important element of a healthy lifestyle and as a much cheaper and environmentally friendly alternative to expensive bottled water and other plastic packaged drinks.

Melbourne is reputed to have some of the best drinking water in the world, yet each year Australians spend more than $500 million on purchasing bottled water.

However it’s the plastic waste that ends up in landfill, waterways and oceans that causes the most harm. The environmental impact of this waste is huge and is killing our bird and marine life who mistake it for food. The average length of time it takes for a plastic bottle to break down is 450 years.

Following a customer survey, Yarra Valley Water found that people were frustrated by a lack of accessibility to tap water when they were out and about, which is why many purchased bottled water. The findings showed that the public would happily drink tap water if it was more readily available in public spaces.

Armed with this information, Yarra Valley Water looked at ways to meet customer demand by providing easy accessibility to good quality drinking water when they’re out and about. This launched the ‘Choose Tap’ initiative, a program all about choice – the choice to easily use and access free, good quality drinking water and the choice to live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

Yarra Valley Water set about researching a number of products that would fill the brief to conveniently supply quality drinking water to the public while promoting the smart choice message – and chose the aquafil™ product range of Water Refill Stations. They met and exceeded the brief by offering a range of options such as filtered and non-filtered water, meters to track usage, dog bowls and by being wheel chair accessible. Promoting the Choose Tap message, while keeping people and animals hydrated and healthy, what a bonus!

“We chose aquafil because of the quality of the unit. It will be able to endure the harsh public outdoor environment and withstand the test of time,” says Kelly Berghella, Program Manager, Customer Programs at Yarra Valley Water.

“Having a large area on which to display branding, messages and artwork was an added bonus.”

Yarra Valley Water has since worked with local councils to install 25 aquafil units to supply the public with drinking water across its service area.

They can be found at recreational spaces such as ovals and walking trails, shopping precincts, hospitals, universities and TAFES, providing the community with a free, convenient and environmentally friendly way to stay healthy and hydrated.

Yarra Ranges Council was the first council to partner with Yarra Valley Water to install a Water Refill Station in its municipality at Lilydale Lake. Visitors to the Lilydale Lake aquafil unit have since consumed 64,450 litres of tap water over the past two years equating to 184,143 plastic 350ml drinking bottles.  That’s a lot of bottles saved from landfill.

The Choose Tap program also sees Yarra Valley Water partner with local sporting clubs, fun runs and festivals promote its message, with the aquafil Portable Water Refill Stations branded as Portable Hydration Stations. It doesn’t end there; local cafes and restaurants are now promoting ‘Choose Tap’ with the use of ‘Choose Tap’ glass bottles for patrons.

Schools are also coming on board with a fundraising initiative to sell Choose Tap reusable water bottles – a much healthier and long-lasting alternative to chocolate bar fundraisers.

Melburnians can sometimes take their quality tap water for granted and forget about the negative impact bottled water has on our pockets and our environment.

With 25 aquafil Water Refill Stations now installed and 24 more due to be rolled out over the second half of 2013, Yarra Valley Water is leading the way in helping to promote a healthy lifestyle and create a better environment for tomorrow.

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The Cost of Bottled Water – 2000 times more than tap

June 12, 2013

Choice – The Peoples Watchdog

by Elise Dalley

Australian consumers pay almost 2000 times more than the cost of tap water to drink from a bottle.

While a litre of tap water in Sydney costs only a fraction of a cent, you can pay upwards of $3.88 a litre for bottled water, with a large proportion of this cost coming from producing the plastic bottle, lid and label. And the costs over time can add up considerably.

If you hydrate yourself with two litres a day straight from the tap, you’ll pay about $1.50 a year. Drink the same amount from single-serve bottles, however, and you could be looking at $2800 or more a year.

Yet all Australians have access to safe drinking water, and for most of us it’s readily available via the tap. Water trends from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2006 environment survey show 93% of Australian households were connected to mains/town water in March 2004. Almost all households (98%) in capital cities were connected, compared with 86% of households outside the capitals.

Tap vs bottle

Industry group the Australasian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI) estimates the industry is worth about $500 million a year. This equates to the sale of roughly 600 megalitres of water, 60% of which is sold in single-serve bottles. On a national level, about one in five households bought bottled water in 2004, compared with 16% in 2001. In fact, almost one in 10 households says it’s their main source of drinking water.

In the 10 years to 2004, the proportion of households buying bottled water increased from three per cent to 21%. Market researchers Canadean say world consumption of bottled water has doubled in the past decade, and predict bottled water will overtake carbonated drinks as the leading drink category by 2015.

On tap

Mains tap water in Australian cities is supplied by utilities, while in rural and regional areas it’s the responsibility of local council. Individual state health departments are responsible for regulating water quality monitoring. The water from your tap starts its journey from catchment zones, dams, rivers and even the ocean before flowing through filtration plants designed to remove contaminants and bring water in line with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. Set by the National Health and Medical Research Council, these guidelines define safe, good-quality water and how it is achieved and assured.

The poor taste of their mains water can lead some people to choose bottled water but, aside from the cost, there are also health and environmental arguments for tap water.

If the quality of tap water is a problem where you live – see State-by-state water quality – there are a number of water filters on the market that can help you save money in the long term. These are available with different filter cartridges that help remove impurities, which may help with taste.
Read full story

Disabled Student fights for improved access to university’s facilities

Ben’s story: Improved access to a university’s facilities and cinema

I have a physical disability and use a powered wheelchair for mobility. While studying at university, I experienced several issues with regard to wheelchair access to the various facilities on campus. I worked with the university’s disability officers to successfully and speedily resolve many of these issues before they became problematic. However, one major building refurbishment on campus which presented ideal opportunities to correct long standing impediments to access for people with disabilities was particularly challenging.

The university’s on-campus cinema had an appalling and unsafe standard of wheelchair access into and within the cinema. This included a very narrow access way with a steep drop-off to be negotiated to the ‘wheelchair access’ seating. On hearing of the proposed refurbishment, I was excited and eager to ensure that the cinema would finally obtain first rate wheelchair access. I wrote to the project team requesting details on wheelchair access provisions, with the response assuring me that “Access for people with disabilities is very important and will be properly considered in the design…” At that stage, warning bells and flashing red lights filled my mind having previously experienced how such vague statements usually fail to deliver. So I shot back a letter requesting a meeting with the architects and project team. After some deliberations, a disability access expert and I trundled in to meet them.

Read the full story…

Yarra Valley’s Choose Tap App

Encouraging people to choose tap water over bottled water has taken on a new edge with Yara Valley Water launching its new Be Smart Choose Tap App.

Research has shown that people often drink bottled water because they do not have access to tap water. The Choose Tap app will help them find the nearest Water Refill Station and Drinking Fountain. This will reduce the amount of plastic ending up in landfill and our waterways as more than half of all plastic bottles purchased are discarded without any thought as to the damage they do to the environment.

To date, Yarra Valley Water has added all the water refill stations within their municipalities, including those in recreation areas under the Choose Tap program. It is also encouraging other councils to submit their water refill stations locations and asking the community to help map the water refill stations and drinking fountains that are not on the app.

Read more…

Nine Network buckles under pressure from the beverage industry

The Nine Network pulled Greenpeace’s recycling ad from its Friday night football coverage. The ad has people drinking soft drinks on a beach as birds start falling from the sky and washing up dead, the reason – plastic waste.

The half-minute ad slot cost Greenpeace $22,000 and was due to be shown during Friday night’s NRL match featuring the West Tigers and Cronulla Sharks. According to Channel Nine, the ad was dropped as its content was ‘offensive’.

To view the ad and read the Sydney Morning Herald article click here…

The aquafil Story – How the Water Bottle Refill Station and Bubbler became one

In 2008 Manly Council installed 6 filtered Water Bubblers costing the Council a whopping $55,800 to purchase and install ($9,300 per unit).  Each of these units consisted of a separate bottle filler and bubbler. In an effort to reduce the costs, Manly Council looked for options and together with Arrow Alpha came up with a design that incorporated the filler and bubbler into one unit resulting in the first aquafil water bottle refill station and bubbler. By the end of 2010, 12 aquafil units had been installed in Manly and since then the aquafil product range has grown and now boasts a comprehensive range of refill stations and bubblers.

With the ability to display graphics, the aquafil units serve as dynamic educational tools in promoting a sustainable way of living and encouraging a healthy lifestyle with the Manly units displaying the message “Combat Climate Change. Avoid Waste & Pollution. Reuse Resources. Reduce Carbon Emisions.”

Reducing the amount of plastic bottled water used in the community goes a long way in the fight to reduce plastic waste and save our precious resources, and lets not forget the savings associated with not having to purchase bottled water!

All the units are vandal resistant, easy to keep clean and wheelchair accessible ensuring everyone is able to fill up or have a drink.

Manly Council was the first council in Australia to provide free filtered water to the public and to read about the Manly initiative click here…

Public drinking facility takes on a creative, decorative edge

A progressive  public drinking water refill package from Australian company Arrow Alpha has been chosen by Sydney’s Leichhardt Council as part of its initiative to refurbish an important retail/cafe strip of this esteemed inner city sector of Sydney.

Council’s 2009/10 Main Street Improvement programme under current Mayor, Mr Jamie Parker, sees Arrow Alpha providing its‘ aquafil’ water refill station.

While Arrow Alpha is fast gaining recognition as a strong force in encouraging community water refill stations, this specific aquafil unit also shows how versatile the system can be as an aesthetic showpiece to display and reinforce the cultural history of an area.

Located on the corner of Marion and Edith Streets, this aquafil refill station has a striking facade featuring an intricate mosaic.

It acts not only as a stylised site-marker but also a showpiece community item to visually link its locale to the Italian culture that put Leichhardt firmly on the international tourist map; much like the suburb of Carlton achieves in Melbourne.

Arrow Alpha says this aspect of its refill stations is taking on a new level of importance because councils, school bodies as well as private companies and business parks can utilise aquafil’s panels for branding, marketing and decorative purposes.

Arrow Alpha is also a supplier of Australian-Standard-approved bike racks that meet modern day demand of Australian residents demand for carbon footprint reduction.

With a firm push by councillors in many areas of Sydney – particularly in central zones – to increase and integrate bicycle tracks for cleaner travel and better general health of the population, the concept of the water refill station is gaining momentum as a solution to not just provide convenient stops for drinking water but to also reduce the level of empty bottles being discarded into waste streams and on the streets.

Arrow Alpha’s water refill station in Leichhardt has been installed as part of a greater works project that includes bike racks, decorative lighting, more spacious and updated paving and tree preservation orders.

Another aquafil water refill station is being introduced in the nearby Annandale Shopping village.

Able to be tailored for the end user, aquafil is a sustainable amenity that alleviates poor hygiene problems that plagued traditional water fountains in decades past.
It has capacity for promotional space (ideal for councils and public works) and eliminates general waste issues by encouraging people to refill bottles through multiple purpose-specific refill nozzles, rather than buying throw-away bottled water.

aquafil water fountain’s bottle refill points have anti-bacterial nozzles. Wheelchair accessibility is a standard, signage facilities prominent; they have optional sub–floor drainage, and the choice of filtered water configuration if desired.

Bottle refill points are nominally positioned on the sides of these units – made of silver impregnated plastic and stainless steel to eliminate any threat of bacteria. Germ potential was one of the main reasons that traditional drinking fountains disappeared from the public landscape.

aquafil units also combat another primary reason why drinking fountains have had a long absence from parks and streets – vandalism. Anti-vandal nozzles and buttons are a feature of the product line.

Because the units comprise highly visual modular panels, it ensures space for colourful branding or promotional activity and this is well received by councils, transport authorities, shopping centre management and general businesses which can utilise this aspect of design to publicise messages on a 24/7 basis.

Arrow Alpha Industries has designed the aquafil drinking fountain and water refill unit to be maintained very easily by using off-the-shelf components.

Manly Council Filtered Water Project: Plastic Water Bottle Waste and its Negative Impact on our Environment

Manly Council was the first council in Australia to provide filtered water refill stations to the general public for drinking and refilling bottles. Their aim was to combat climate change and decrease their impact on the environment by reducing the consumption of bottled water and its associated plastic water bottle waste in their community.

To achieve this, Manly Council set out to encourage its residents and visitors to reuse and refill their water bottles instead of discarding them and purchasing new ones.

The Filtered Water Refill Stations were a practical and deliverable solution that the council could easily implement. With an existing network of water supply pipes and drinking fountains, incorporating the Filtered Water Refill Stations was a simple way the Council could demonstrate their commitment to helping the environment.

Former Mayor of Manly – Dr Peter Macdonald stated: “From the point of production to their ultimate disposal, water bottles have a significantly negative impact on our environment. The production, transportation, refrigeration and disposal of water bottles is a massive waste of our natural resources and leads to excessive greenhouse gas emissions; not to mention the obvious pollution they create in our local environment.”

Research done by Manly Council found that 75% of containers in the waste stream were water bottles. Not only is their waste an issue, according to the Department of Environment and Climate Change, each litre bottle of water takes 200mL of oil to produce, package, transport and refrigerate. As a result, at least 50 million litres of oil is used in the manufacture and distribution of bottled water in Australia every year.

Since the implementation of 6 Filtered Water Refill Stations, Manly Council have estimated that they have prevented 150,000 litres of water from being purchased. This equates to approximately 250,000 plastic water bottles they have stopped entering the waste stream. Due to the success of this initiative, the Council has implemented an ongoing program to provide more Filtered Water Refill Stations in their local area.

Manly Council are currently in the process of installing 10 aquafil Filtered Water Refill Stations along the Manly beachfront. Manly Council have been proactive in creating a better environment today, for a more sustainable tomorrow…

It also encourages other Councils, Governments and communities to implement the same initiative for a better future.


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