Glasgow University Scottish Greens have launched a campaign, ‘Water Without Waste, to ban plastic bottles from campus. The society, which is affiliated to the Scottish Green Party, aim to encourage sustainable and reusable bottle usage, improve access to water fountains, and ultimately remove plastic bottled water from circulation on campus.
With a million plastic bottles bought globally each minute, your humble bottle of water poses a grave threat to the environment. Most plastic bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate (or PET), a highly recyclable material, yet less than half of these bottles were recycled in 2016. Bottles that aren’t recycled end up in the environment, for example, polluting the seas, or unsustainably kept at landfill.
There appears to be no sign of stopping, either: by 2021, according to The Guardian, PET bottle production is expected to soar beyond 500 billion bottles annually. Our overuse of plastic has already proved detrimental to the food we eat: in 2016, Plymouth University discovered that a third of UK-caught fish contained plastic. The most common type of plastic noted in this survey was PET, which is also used for other plastic food and drinks containers.
Frida Skillemar, co-convenor of the Glasgow University Scottish Greens, added that "there are many reasons why [we] should be concerned with plastic pollution." She emphasised that, although "the Water Without Waste campaign is small and local", the Green Party Society believe it is "a step in the right direction", towards an overall reduction in wasted PET plastics.
The campaign is based on success elsewhere: in 2009, Edinburgh University, implemented policies to discourage bottles use amongst staff and students. This included ensuring that water fountains are conveniently located and clearly identified, and led to withdrawal of bottled water coolers from campus. As well as environmental benefits, this was projected to save the University around £80,000 a year.
In the meantime, Skillemar advises students to ‘sign the petition, share the campaign, and start using a sustainable bottle’. For more information, as the campaign progresses, you can follow the campaign Facebook at 'Glasgow University Scottish Greens'.