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Leeds students ban bottled water

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Martin Wainwright
London Guardian
Monday, Feb 2, 2009

Students at one of Britain’s biggest universities have become the first in the country to ban bottled still water from all their bars, cafes and shops, sacrificing annual profits of £32,000.

A referendum at Leeds University has voted overwhelmingly to phase out the product by the end of next year, to allow campus stores to absorb the loss of their biggest-selling line.

More than 200,000 bottles of still water were sold by the university union’s outlets last year to students, whose bags and backpacks habitually have the plastic containers peeping from pockets. National sales of bottled water have risen rapidly in the last decade and now account for 5% of all drinks purchased.

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“It’s a measure of concern about the environment, putting sustainability before profit,” says Tom Salmon of Leeds University Union, which saw 4,000 students vote on the issue – an exceptional turnout. “We’ve got to pull bottled water off the shelves by 2010 and bring in new lines of affordable, reusable water bottles instead.”

The union, whose main bar is one of Britain’s largest single drink outlets, will install free drinking fountains on the main campus as part of the initiative, and at residences and blocks of student flats. A campaign will be launched to promote tap water along the lines of the region’s successful promotion three years ago, with the slogan: “Yorkshire water – ask for it by name”.

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This article was posted: Monday, February 2, 2009 at 1:48 pm

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