Sustainability Surcharge on Water Bottles

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On Friday, the members of the Dickinson community received the following email from Ken Shultes, Associate Vice President of Campus Operations:

In an effort to reduce the consumption and disposal of plastic water bottles on campus, a new initiative will go into effect this semester, starting on Jan. 19, 2013. The initiative is simple—to encourage the campus community to eliminate the use of plastic water bottles by placing a $1.00 sustainability surcharge on the purchase of any water bottle on campus (from vending machines, The Devil’s Den or Dining Services). The proceeds from the initiative will be used in part to fund new sustainability initiatives in the future.

An important part of the initiative is to make filtered water readily available on campus by installing new Water Bottle Filling Stations. Five stations were installed last semester, and by early February Facilities Management will have installed 10 additional stations, thanks in large part to funding from the Student Senate for 10 of the stations. For added convenience, we plan on installing two outdoor Bottle Filling Stations in the spring.

The objective of reducing the consumption of plastic water bottles on campus and the broader “Take Back the Tap” movement has been championed by the student environmental organization EarthNow, and has garnered widespread student support, including the signing of a student petition to eliminate the sale of plastic water bottles on campus and the endorsement for the gradual reduction of water bottles on campus by the Student Senate. The sustainability surcharge is the proposed solution for this objective.

Although bottled water is still available on campus, it is now taxed, and that money will go towards funding sustainable initiatives (such as a few more filling stations in years to come maybe?). The idea is that by providing more filling stations, students will have fewer and fewer reasons to buy bottled water (some such reasons now are that there are two few water fountains, and that many of the water fountains are old and have funny-tasting water). The filling stations provide clean, filtered water where there doesn’t seem to be any. Also, the surcharge provides the incentive for people who frequently buy bottled water to buy one reusable water bottle instead and fill it for free.

The surcharge and the additional filling stations are not the end of Take Back the Tap on Dickinson’s campus, but they are a great start. They are the result of a lot of hard work on the part of EarthNow members, Dickinson facilities, Student Senate, and Dickinson students, and we’re excited to see where this partnership will lead us.

Locations of filling stations (complete instillation by early February)


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