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Vending machines to be bottled-water-free

Concordia launches first phase of university-wide project that will continue over three years.
April 6, 2011
By Chris Mota

Based on research and broad consultation on drinking water distribution, Concordia has launched the first phase of a project that will eventually remove bottled water from sale in vending machines on both the Loyola and Sir George Williams campuses.

Over a three-year period, 144 of the university’s 235 drinking fountains will be upgraded to accommodate reusable drink containers (63 replacements and 81 units retrofitted). Once Phase 1 is completed, approximately a year from now, water fountain stations will be equipped to refill bottles in most buildings, and bottled water will be removed from vending machines.

“This is not only about bottled water but is consistent with the university’s values of promoting responsible sustainability practices,” says Acting Vice-President, Services, Roger Côté. “It’s the next step in Concordia’s ongoing commitment to enhancing the quality of life of the community in which we live.”

A team of administrators and student leaders has been reviewing the issue for the better part of a year. They listened to presentations from the bottled water industry, reviewed how other Canadian universities have dealt with the situation, and held public forums to obtain feedback from the community.

When the university signed a five-year beverage contract with Pepsi in October 2010, a clause was included allowing the university to restrict the sale of bottled water in vending machines — if and when it chose to do so.

“We did our homework and feel confident that this is the right decision at the right time,” adds Côté.

In the months ahead, the university will launch an education and communication campaign to promote using refill stations.

Related links:

•    “Concordia Hosts Open Forums on Water” — NOW, February 1, 2011
•    “Concordia University’s Position on Bottled Water” — NOW, October 28, 2010

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