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Bottled tap water to fund scholarships at UT-Austin

With state budgets in shambles, public universities have had to get creative about funding. In Austin, the University of Texas has taken an approach to funding scholarships that could undermine the region’s otherwise sterling green credentials: the sale of H2Orange bottled tap water (which comes in a bottle shaped like the UT Tower).

The partnership was announced last Monday; by Friday, activists had geared up to protest the partnership, claiming it “undermines Austin’s Zero Waste goal and the campus’ sustainability policy.”

H2Orange has responded to activists’ concerns by releasing an open letter regarding its plans and policies to handle the environmental impact of its product, which include:

  • Purchasing carbon credits to offset the emissions produced from manufacturing bottles and bottling the water.
  • Exploring the potential use of  a “collapsible, reusable, BPA-free bottle,” as well as bioplastics.
  • Planning to offer a reusable metal bottle in the second year of the partnership.
  • Reclaiming and repurposing used bottles as “into book bags, benches, and other environmentally-responsible products.”



All well and good, no doubt, and raising money for students scholarships is definitely a laudable goal, especially in these tough times. But is bottling water from a municipal water district really the best way to go about meeting this need… especially when recycling rates for disposable water bottles remain steady at around 27%?

Kudos to the company’s founders for taking an entrepreneurial approach to helping the university fund more scholarships… but wouldn’t the metal bottles planned for down the road, or maybe even branded tap water filters, better fit with the University and community’s commitment to sustainability?

via KVUE

MORE FROM SUSTAINABLOG:

  • Can’t afford a full-scale solar power system? Here are some other ways to integrate solar power into your lifestyle.
  • No need for disposable water bottles… check out our selection of reusable water bottles.



Image credit: The University of Texas at Austin