New fountains curb plastic

By Paul Mayne
April 29, 2010

The University of Western Ontario is testing a new hands-free bottle filling station, with the goal of introducing it across campus over the next few years.

iResearch ethics officer Grace Kelly fills up a water bottle at the new EZ H2O Bottle Filling Station in the Support Services Building. A counter tracks the number of plastic water bottles not used. Plans call for similar fountains at the University Community Centre later this year.

The EZ H2O Bottle Filling Station aims to curb the use of plastic water bottles, minimizing disposable plastic waste in the environment. The system, which can be retrofitted to many current water fountains on campus, was installed about a month ago as a test in the Support Services Building.

The reaction has been tremendous, says Associate Vice-President (Physical Plant and Capital Planning) Roy Langille.

"We've had a lot of positive feedback and folks are actually using this fountain more now that they have this feature on it," says Langille, noting it can be used as a drinking fountain as well.

With the shift away from bottled water over the last couple years, Physical Plant has been looking into fountains able to fill water bottles. For example, at the Western Student Recreation Centre fountains have been fitted with 'goosenecks' to fill bottles.

The latest model at the Support Services Building was installed as a free tester.

"We are going to look at putting more of these in," says Langille. "We're working on the UCC now and that should be done this year with the new model."

The installation will then carry on to include the Weldon and Taylor libraries. Langille says the plan is to update drinking fountains in all academic and residence buildings over a number of years.

"We have surveyed all the academic buildings and categorized what kind of fountains we have, and developed a plan so we can replace the ones that need to be replaced first," he says. "The ones in worst shape, we'll plan on fitting them out first and then move on."

One feature of the new filling station is the 'green ticker,' which counts the quantity of 12 ounce bottles saved from the landfill by refilling reusable water bottles. So far, the equivalent of more than 1,200 bottles has been diverted.

"That's a lot of bottles," says Langille. "It's a nice feature to have and to create awareness of how many bottles we actually are saving."


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