U of T Mississauga phases out bottled water sales

Jane Stirling

U of T Mississauga will eliminate the sale and distribution of bottled water on campus over a three-year period, beginning next month.

As part of U of T's decision to phase out sales of bottled water, U of T Mississauga will eliminate bottled water in some food service outlets and all vending machines, starting Sept. 1. Specifically, there will be no sale of bottled water in Colman Commons in Oscar Peterson Hall, the Instructional Centre, Circuit Break café in the Communication, Culture and Technology (CCT) building and Spigel Hall in the Davis Building.

The ban will be extended, over a three-year time frame, to include the North Building cafeteria, Starbucks and the Meeting Place.

To ensure students have access to drinking water, the campus - over a five-year period -will install or retrofit public water stations with bottling-filling capacity in high traffic areas and areas where bottled water has been removed. A total of 10 bottle-filling stations will be installed or retrofitted prior to the start of this academic year; new stations will be placed in Oscar Peterson Hall, the CCT building and the Meeting Place.

And to encourage people to use the public water stations, the campus will distribute water bottles to all first-year students during orientation week activities and to new faculty and staff at employee orientation sessions.

"This ban is the right thing to do and the right time to do it," said Professor Deep Saini, vice-president of U of T and principal of U of T Mississauga. "U of T should be a leader in the area of environmental sustainability, and support the stance that water should not be a commodity that can be removed from its natural source, packaged, shipped and sold. This initiative promotes environmental responsibility, and builds water issue awareness in our community."

In March 2011, U of T held a Bottled Water Free Day event on its three campuses; to mark the event; U of T Mississauga removed bottled water from food outlets and vending machines, and distributed over 1,200 free water bottles. In a survey, over 85 per cent of U of T respondents favoured a bottled water ban; last spring, President David Naylor approved the sales ban on all three campuses.

Several North American universities and municipalities including the University of Ottawa, Queen's and Ryerson Universities and the City of Toronto have ended the sale and distribution of bottled water in their facilities.