Reusable Water Bottles - Sites@Duke

Reusable Water Bottles - Sites@Duke
Reusable Water Bottles
Curbing non-reusable plastic water bottle use on Duke University’s campus
ENV 171 - Dunning
J Salzman • J Crabtree • B White •W Gurzynski • C Kachadoorian
Water Bottle Group • ENV 171
Final Recommendations
ENV 171
In the United States alone, over 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown out daily.
By the time a water bottle has been purchased, emptied, and recycled, it has already produced an
ecological footprint well beyond its weight. From production (plastic bottles are primarily made
from PET, a petroleum derivate), packaging, and transport (to Britain alone, half a billion bottles
are flown in every year), bottles are much more energy consumptive than their transparent
slender shapes lead on. One could fill a bottle a quarter full of oil to show the amount of
petroleum-derived energy used in placing the bottle in your hand (Sevier).
Our group sought to better understand the use of bottled water on Duke University’s campus,
curb single-use water bottle consumption, and develop sustainable infrastructure to support the
use of reusable bottles. This project was especially important because of the growing necessity to
manage solid resources responsibly in the face of staggering climate change issues on local,
regional, and global levels. At Duke, our efforts to study different types of plastic bottles, analyze
models of hydration stations, and install units on campus fall directly in line with Duke’s Climate
Action Plan, which pledges to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024. For these reasons, we
approached our research project with a sense of urgency to employ sustainable developments on
campus as soon as possible.
We worked closely with the Duke Sustainability Office, specifically Duke’s Recycling and Waste
Reduction Coordinator Arwen Buchholz and Environmental Sustainability Director Tavey
McDaniel Capps, throughout the Spring 2012 semester. Ms. Buchholz and Ms. Capps were
instrumental in helping us contact certain organizations on campus and advising the deliverables
we created as a part of our ultimate recommendations.
This paper will provide background information on bottled water use from a global perspective,
the feasibility of hydration stations at Duke, and parallel initiatives at other schools. Next, we will
describe our methodology in performing both primary and secondary research. After discussing
findings and offering concise recommendations, we will outline opportunities for future work
with hydration station units at Duke.
Our deliverables from this project, which can be found on our group’s website (http://, include: an analysis and
recommendation on “eco-plastics,” a document of hydration station models with cost,
installation, and maintenance details, a data analysis piece from a survey distributed on campus,
and a PowerPoint presentation outlining our project.
As of April 2012, our group has recommended standardizing the use of PET bottles on campus,
installing hydration stations in Wilson Gym and the Bryan Center, and redesigning the water
bottles distributed to freshmen by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.
While funding remains an impediment, the Duke Student Environment and Sustainability
Committee of Duke Student Government is confident in securing about $5,000 for initial
installation efforts on West campus. On a long-term scale,
we hope to write in legislation requiring all new
buildings to feature hydration stations, including
the West Union Building, which will undergo construction
60 million bottles are
discarded daily. Only 1 in 6
make it to the recycling bin.
this summer.
Problem Identification
Single-use plastic water bottles, a $22 billion industry in the United States, are incredibly energy
consumptive (Back2Tap, 2008). The production, distribution, consumption, and recycling
processes are far from efficient, as only one in six bottles make it to recycling, and the industry
uses over 17 million barrels of oil per year (Pacific Institute, 2012). In order to combat the
rampant “throw away” attitude and relieve some of the energy and emissions stresses evident in
the life cycle of a bottle, organizations around the country have made efforts to raise awareness
and promote alternatives to single-use water bottles.
“Ban the Bottle,” a prominent grassroots organization dedicated to banning plastic water bottles,
has generated thousands of supporters through its blog about the negative aspects of single-use
bottles. The website reports that many colleges throughout the country have made efforts to
control or completely ban the availability and/or sale of plastic water bottles. Prominent schools
to do so include Vassar College, UC Berkley, Harvard University, and Brown University.
Duke University has made commendable efforts to limit single use bottled water, but extensive
action is required to move closer to completely eliminating plastic water bottles on campus.
While the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC has completely eliminated single-use
bottles from its dining, catering, and vending machine operations, the Office of the Provost and
Duke Continuing Medical Education have also made productive steps by publicizing the need to
use reusable water bottles.
It was our initial goal to work towards a complete ban of water bottles on campus, but analysis of
supply side and demand side economics have led to us to believe that offering alternatives to
single use plastic bottles must precede a ban if effective change is the ultimate goal. For that
reason, we have worked to install hydration stations at Duke University in order to promote the
use of reusable water bottles in our overarching attempt to curb plastic water bottle on campus.
What follows is an explanation of our data collection and methods used to obtain the necessary
findings for responsible recommendations to the Duke Sustainability Office.
Team A - Hydration Station
(supply alternative)
Team B - Bottle Water
Wk 1-3: explore and evaluate hydration
station models
Wk 1-3: research plastic bottle varieties +
waste implications
Wk 4-5: develop feasibility of hydration
stations on East Campus
Wk 4-5: analyzed water bottle use on Duke
campus with survey
Wk 6-7: secure on-campus support and maintenance infrastructure for hydration station
Wk 8: finalize financial backing for hydration station and long-term goals; presentation of final
deliverables to clients
Project Timeline - Initial Design
We used two major means of collecting data for this project. Using primary and secondary
research gave us a robust understanding of campus realities regarding water bottle use and
preferences for reusable bottles--two elements that are critical to our success in helping our
clients establish a hydration station infrastructure.
Secondary Research
To begin our investigation, we used secondary research to understand the different types of
plastic used in non-PET bottles, and the different options of hydration stations available, as per
the request of our client.
Plastic Bottle Varieties: Our client wanted to generate a deliverable that would describe the
different types of PET and compostable and ‘plant-based’ bottles that are commonly used. We
started the search by reviewing academic articles that describe the plant-based bottle debate (that
they are not recyclable using common recycling techniques, despite being nearly
indistinguishable from regular PET plastic bottles). After establishing which types of plastic
(plant-based, compostable, ect), we dedicated our research to understanding the particular
chemical composition of these bottles, and creating a list of pros and cons for their use. Given the
project trajectory set by our client, we decided that a life-cycle analysis would be best to give us
the most useful recommendation. This analysis included the recyclability of each bottle’s type
according to Duke’s recycling service, Sonoco, and the long-term compostability of the bottle
according to academic articles. This resulted in one of our deliverables: a chart sheet examining
the different types of PET and plant-based bottles, and a recommendation of the best types that
the Sustainability Office should advocate.
Hydration Station Possibilities: This secondary research attempt examined publishings from
other peer institutions as Duke to examine what options they considered in creating a hydration
station infrastructure. From this starting point, we began to cross-list these options with those
that would be viable given Duke’s plumbing and existing
infrastructure. Once we had used inductive reasoning, we
completed the analysis by compiling a list of options,
referencing the manufactures’ websites to get price
quotes on equipment and units. To break down the mass of
51 billion single-use
bottles are used annually in
the United States alone.
information, we identified the major manufacturers that build ‘hydration station’ equipment.
Primary Research
Our project, especially in its more final stages towards achieving implementation, required
primary research to bolster our secondary approaches. We depended heavily on the personal
interviews with maintenance staff and facilities managers to understand what would be the most
feasible option for installing hydration station.
The most important primary research for creating a hydration station infrastructure on campus
required two initiatives: collecting survey data about student reusable water bottle use and
observational data about existing hydration station use.
Survey Data: We created an online survey distributed via campus listserv. Given that our target
audience was undergraduate and graduate students, we knew that making an online survey, that
was quick to finish and not particularly thought-intensive, would be the surest way to access the
student population. This goal was met, and we polled some 80 individuals across campus. We
determined this was a fair number to make some basic conclusions about student water bottle
preferences on campus.
We managed to reach 55 men and 23 women, who live on West, Central, and East campuses.
Though we reached some graduate students, most respondents were undergraduates.
Observation Data: We observed two of the major refilling locations on campus: the spigot on the
water fountain in Alpine Bagels and the water fountains at the Wilson gym. We decided that
these places would be likely to observe student use of refillable water bottles because of the ease
of refilling in Alpine, and the need to refill water while exercising at Wilson. We recorded
anecdotal observation, coding for identified gender of observed parties.
Primary data was also was gathered from first-person interviews with our clients and their
community partners who identified important information they had gathered from their own
experiences. This information was especially important to understand which options for
hydration stations would work best because we as students lacked the anecdotal evidence to state
which options were best.
In analyzing this primary data, we broke down the responses, highlighting the most important
questions that relate to USE and OWNERSHIP of reusable water bottles by asking the following
Answer Options
- Do you own a reusable water bottle?
Yes / No
- Do you use a reusable water bottle on a daily basis?
Yes / No
- What percentage of plastic water bottles do you recycle?
[open ended]
- If you don’t carry a reusable water bottle, what prevents you from doing so?
[open ended]
- If there were reusable-water bottle filling stations on campus, how likely would you be
Very Likely <> Very Not Likely
to use a reusable water bottle?
- Do you have any strong feelings/thoughts about bottled water use on Duke’s campus?
[open ended]
These questions were quick enough to answer for most respondents, while the open ended
questions provided for greater richness of response from those who cared to respond. We
estimated that the answers for the questions with prefabricated responses would provide the bulk
of our data analysis, especially because tracking this behavior with raw data would be the most
important to our recommendations.
In coming up with recommendations about where to place hydration stations around campus, we
used deductive inference using our own personal familiarity with Duke student conduct and
behavior since each member of our group is an undergraduate Duke student.
Findings and Data
In our observations, we noticed that women refilled their water bottles more frequently than
men. While sitting in Alpine Bagles, most of the students who refilled their water bottles were
women. According to this anecdotal evidence, women frequently refilled their water bottles,
while men were typically buying non-reusable water bottles from the Alpine counter. We
wondered if women were more likely to own and use their refillable water bottle than men. We
posited that our data would reflect this hypothesis in survey data.
Men who OWN a reusable bottle
Men who USE a reusable bottle
% of plastic water bottles recycled (MEN)
Women who OWN a reusable bottle
Women who USE a reusable bottle
% of plastic water bottles recycled (WOMEN)
When examining the data, we decided to examine three critical questions that seemed to have
distinct differences along gender-identity lines. It seemed that men were much less likely to use a
reusable water bottle as well as to recycle single-use water bottles. For example, 64% of men
polled owned a reusable water bottle, while a full 96% of women admitted to owning one
themselves. The difference was even more apparent in those who used their reusable water
bottles. Of men, only 36% of those polled said they used a reusable water bottle. Nearly the
opposite was true of women: a full 70% of women used their reusable water bottles, while only
30% said they did not. According to these data, men seem to be much more averted to using
reusable water bottles, while women were much more keen to use their reusable water bottle.
Again, it appears that women are more likely to recycle. Of female respondents, none (0%)
claimed to recycle less than 25% of the time, while 40%--nearly half of male respondents said that
they recycle less than 25% of the time. A third of women recycle more than 75% of the time, while
only a fifth of men claimed to do so. Our inference from the data is that women face a more
accepting social climate that encourages ‘being green’ especially in visible ways like recycling or
using a reusable water bottle.
Students who OWN a reusable bottle
Students who USE a reusable bottle
% of plastic water bottles recycled (STUDENTS)
In general, about 3 of 4 students own a reusable water bottle, while under half (46%) use one
regularly. Most students polled recycle between 25% and 50% of the time, while 33% recycle all
the time. 22% recycle between 0% and 25% of the time. The greatest impediments that students
identified that keep them from using reusable water bottles is the inconvenience of carrying one
or the inconvenience of filling it. Most respondents identified one of these two reasons as their
primary deterrence for using a reusable water bottle. This bodes well for our project
recommendations because it shows that students would likely support an improved
infrastructure to refill reusable water bottles. All but two respondents said they would likely use a
reusable water bottle if there were reusable-water filling stations on campus. Of those two
respondents who responded “not likely,” one already owns and uses a refillable bottle, while the
other neither owns nor uses one. Both were male.
These data bolster our group’s project to affect the demand for on-campus single-use water
bottles. It makes important implications about moving forward, however, especially to gain the
support of a male audience who, as an inference made from the data, do not support ‘green’
activities or using a refillable water bottle, especially compared to their female compatriots.
Hydration Station and Bottle Recommendations: The data collected for these attempts can be
reviewed in the Findings Appendix, where the final deliverables are seen. Overall, we concluded
that retrofitting old water fountain units with an additional feature that simply places into the
existing infrastructure would be best, and cheapest for the older units on Duke’s campus. These
results were corroborated by members of the facilities management staff on campus who agree
that this option is the best when considering moving forward with this project.
For locations for the first hydration stations, we are considering places that are highly visible,
highly frequented by foot traffic, and, especially for Wilson Gymnasium, places where water
consumption is higher than in other locations. We are still encouraging the development of
hydration stations around East Campus, especially in residence
halls, with the goal to create long-term habitual use by first-year
Over 17 million barrels of oil are
students that they will carry over to living on West and
used to produce plastic bottles
Central campuses. To see the full recommendations,
annually. That would enough to
see our Future Recommendations with map below.
power a million cars for a year.
Types of Plastic Bottles:
When we began work on the project, our clients had asked us to research different types of
plastic bottles in hopes that we could identify a more sustainable alternative to the standard PET
petroleum-based bottles being used on campus. Bioplastic bottles, or those made from biomass
sources, immediately stood out as potential candidates because they are made from renewable
sources, rather than fossil fuels. However, as we worked our way through the project, it became
increasingly apparent that bio-plastic bottles were not the answer. Due to concerns about the
greenhouse gas emissions resulting from bioplastic production, as well as the feasibility of their
proper disposal at Duke, we were able to confidently report that bioplastics were not a logical
alternative to PET. Specifically, we worried about the inclusion of bioplastics in PET recycling
streams and the incongruence between bioplastic production and Duke’s Climate Action Plan.
Instead, we recommended that until Duke can completely move away from the use of nonreusable bottles, it should standardize the use of PET bottles across campus and work to increase
the rate at which they are recycled.
Reusable Bottles: After coming to the conclusion that the combination of hydration stations and
reusable bottles was the best way to limit bottled water use, the next task was to decide on the
best way to promote the use of reusable bottles. We think that giving practical reusable bottles to
incoming freshmen during orientation is the best option initially. Of the student body, we reason
that first-years are generally the most energetic and receptive to innovative sustainability efforts.
As this is such, we think they will be the most likely to adopt and embrace the switch. If Duke is
able instill in them an awareness of sustainability in their first year, they will bring it with them to
West Campus in their subsequent years. Duke currently gives out a reusable bottle during
orientation, but at 12 oz, it is too small to use practically to carry water. This small bottle is given
out because Duke’s Student Wellness Center believes that freshmen will be inclined to put
alcohol in larger bottles. We are currently working to change their preconceived notions on the
basis that this assumption makes no logical sense.
Types of Hydration Stations: Our next order of business was
deciding which models of hydration stations would
make the most sense in different locations. Through
personal observation, we ascertained that the majority of
the main buildings on campus have Halsey Taylor, Oasis, and
One could fill a water
bottle 1/4 full of oil to show
its petroleum footprint.
Elkay brand water fountains in them. Thus, we identified the
models similar to the Halsey Taylor Hydroboost Retrofit Kit with Filter as the best hydration
station to install in the majority of locations around campus. The HT Hydroboost Retrofit Kit
requires minimal labor during installation, as it can be placed on top of the existing Halsey Taylor
fountain. It is priced at $564.50, which means it ranks as one of the cheaper models. Randy
Orange, Duke’s Buildings Coordinator, estimated that the cost of installing this model,
including installation materials and labor, would be about $480. Adding that to the cost of the
unit itself, each retrofit will cost about $1,000. We also thought it might be advantageous to
install one of the more aesthetically pleasing models, such as the Brita recessed mount (priced
$2,150), in higher-traffic areas in hopes of generating more interest in hydration stations.
Hydration Station Locations: A unit can be installed anywhere where there is access to water,
power, and a drain, though it makes the most fiscal sense to place them on top of existing water
fountains. After consulting with Randy Orange, we decided it was reasonable to aim for installing
one hydration station in each building on West Campus. We thought it made the most sense to
first work on installing the stations in higher-traffic buildings to get students and faculty
accustomed to using the units.
There are a number of complications with installing hydration stations on East Campus. Firstly,
Randy Orange does not have jurisdiction on East Campus. Instead, Joe Clark, the Housing
Coordinator, is in charge. Secondly, many of the existing water fountains are recessed, or semirecessed, which will raise costs because a carpentry team will be required to retrofit the fountains
with hydration stations. Lastly, it may be difficult to convince the administration to tamper with
the vintage feel of the older dorms on East Campus.
Budget: As mentioned earlier, the total cost of installing the Halsey Taylor retrofit unit will
about $1,000. Unless we want to install some of the flashier models in the more visible areas, we
will budget $1,000 per unit. Randy Orange suggested that we not use filters in any of the units,
as the water in them is already safe to drink and changing the filters will incur additional
maintenance costs.
Project Allies: Aside from Duke University Stores, specifically Manager Jim Wilkerson who
makes a substantial profit from the sale of plastic bottles, every campus organization has been
receptive to our project. Randy Orange, Duke’s facilities manager, has been especially
supportive of our work. Duke Student Government has also been supportive, estimating that
they could supply us with $5,000. We have forged a positive relationship with SESC and East
Campus Council for future work starting at the beginning of the Fall Semester.
This project has great potential for future growth in the coming years. We recommend this
project continue in a coalition partnership of student groups and the sustainability office. In this
section we will discuss the vision we have maintained for this project, and make
recommendations for action in the coming years.
First, we recommend you adopt the goal of banning plastic water bottles on Duke's campus. If
the Duke carbon offset initiative is any indication, our administration strives to consider Duke a
progressive institution with regard to environmental policy. Given recent media attention our
peer institutions such as Harvard and Princeton have received for banning plastic water bottles,
we believe this is the next major environmental movement for college campuses. From our data
collection, we believe that this is a realistic end goal, if we adopt a tiered strategy for gaining
support among the undergraduate population. The strategy we recommend for future action has
three stages: creating infrastructure, marketing and providing reusable bottles, and removing
plastic bottle availability.
Creating a Hydration Station Infrastructure
General Reasoning:
The first step towards eliminating plastic water bottles is creating an infrastructure for reusable
water bottles to be successful. Our observations, data, and interviews all indicated that the
greatest inhibitor to individuals using reusable bottles was a lack of places to fill them up. Simply
put, Duke students do not like the idea of filling up reusable water bottles in bathrooms and
water fountains. To counter this, a hydration station infrastructure would allow for the success of
reusable water bottles on campus.
East Campus Implementation:
We believe that hydration station implementation may be best served by proving its success on
East Campus first. Focusing efforts on one campus can have a much stronger impact and foster a
class of students who are more sustainably focused. By investing in one hydration station for
each of the 14 East campus dorms in addition to the Marketplace, Carr, Friedl, the bus stop, and
Brodie Gym, an entire reusable water bottle ecosystem can be created for a relatively small cost.
We have already contacted the leadership group of East Campus, and its advisior, Ms. LB
Bergene, who has been receptive to the project. We suggest meeting with the 2012-2013 East
Campus Council in the month of September and tasking them with adopting the program onto
East Campus.
Creating an infrastructure on East can be coupled with the aforementioned initiative to provide
new students with reusable water bottles. The water bottles currently given out to the incoming
freshmen are too small to foster a change in the way people use plastic water bottles. Although we
have faced opposition to changing the size of the orientation water bottles from the Duke
Wellness center, we strongly believe providing full-size bottles is in the best interest of the
University's goals.
West Campus Infrastructure:
Expanding such an infrastructure to West Campus will require careful considerations for
locations. As the campus houses two to three times more students, it will also be more costly to
implement. We recommend this phase begin first with high-traffic areas, and then be expanded
to residential dorms and academic buildings last. Buildings which are critical to adopting an
infrastructure on West Campus include: Bryan Center, Perkins Library, Bostock Library, Bella
Union (4th floor McClendon Tower), Wilson Gym (upstairs and downstairs), Great Hall, and
outside Subway/Loop. These locations create the very minimum coverage required to foster
success of the initiative on West Campus. After an initial installation at these locations, a second
round should encompass each residential quad, and later each academic building. This West
Campus implementation can be coordinated by DSG and the Environmental Alliance. We have
already contacted DSG leadership for 2012-2013, including George Carotenuto (VP for
Facilities and the Environment) and they are very excited to be included in the project.
Marketing and Providing Reusable Bottles
Encouraging Reusable Bottle Purchase:
Once a hydration station infrastructure has been created, focus should turn to how to increase
student accessibility to reusable bottles. This should be pursued in a two part strategy: a
marketing campaign to encourage students to purchase bottles, and the sale/distribution of
Duke endorsed reusable bottles. The marketing campaign should focus on using reusable
bottles, and use comedic advertisements similar to the ones Sustainability had put it residential
dorms (i.e. “make it a quickie”). We would also recommend memes as a comedic advertisement,
as they seem to have been popular mediums for advertising on campus in the past year. Such an
advertisement is shown below. These ads should be laminated and placed over hydration stations,
and also posted in protected ad spaces (not student ad spaces).
An advertisement campaign will likely encourage environmentally conscious students to
purchase bottles. However, such a campaign may leave out a population of students who could
potentially use reusable bottles, but lack the initiative to buy one themselves. To reach this
Sample advertisement using the
popular meme concept
population, we recommend an on-campus sale/giveaway of subsidized bottles. These bottles
could be sold on FLEX points, and subsidized through DSG, the Nicholas School, or Student
Affairs. We recommend selling at a price point no greater than $5.00 per bottles to ensure
affordability for students. Such a sale would allow Duke Sustainability Office or willing donors to
buy a reliable brands, and even advertise on the bottle itself.
This project began as a simple research assignment. Over the semester, behind the unwavering
support of our clients Arwen Buchholtz, Tavey Capps and Casey Roe, the project has developed
into a substantive plan for the future of water bottle use at Duke University. Rebecca Dunning
and Becky Fisher provided invaluable guidance and made innumerable helpful suggestions to aid
us in our project. Multiple conversations with Randy Orange of Facilities Management and the
Student Environment and Sustainability Committee of Duke Student Government informed our
recommendations, and we sincerely thank them for their contribution. If you have any questions, please contact our analysts for the original data or further analysis.
Email at:
Meding, T. (2008). Going green: Reusable water bottles. Produced by, 9(3), 52-53. http://
Piemonte, V. and Gironi, F. (2011), Land-use change emissions: How green are the
bioplastics?. Environ. Prog. Sustainable Energy, 30: 685–691. doi: 10.1002/ep.10518
Sevier, L. (2009, Spotlight on...reusable water bottles. The Ecologist, 39(3), 49-49. http://
Findings Appendix
Collected Deliverables for Client Review
ENV 171
There are a number of negative externalities associated with bioplastic production:
1. Acquiring enough space to cultivate the crops used to make bioplastics often means clearing forests,
grasslands, and peatlands which function as natural carbon sinks. These land-use changes mean that
the production of bioplastics releases 9 to 170 times more carbon dioxide than the product itself saves
by replacing petroleum-based plastics.
2. The same crops used in making bioplastics are also important food crops. This competition will
inevitably cause world food prices to rise.
3. Cultivation (fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, etc) of the crops used to make bioplastics relies heavily
on inputs of fossil fuel energy.
4. Byproducts of bioplastic production include habitat fragmentation, soil erosion, pesticide exposure,
and the eutrophication of ground and surface water.
Piemonte, V. and Gironi, F. (2011), Land-use change emissions: How green are the bioplastics?. Environ. Prog. Sustainable Energy, 30: 685–691.
doi: 10.1002/ep.10518
These negative externalities elicit debate as to whether bioplastics are actually better for the environment
than traditional petroleum plastics. A life cycle analysis reveals additional externalities concerning
bioplastic disposal.
Biodegradable disposable water bottles composed of 100% bioplastic or a bioplastic-PET blend should
not be used on Duke’s campus for the following reasons:
1. Supporting the use of bioplastic is antithetical to university objectives outlined in Duke’s Climate
Action Plan. The push for total carbon neutrality by 2024 would be inhibited by encouraging the use of
a material that is derived from fossil fuel intensive crops (industrially cultivated corn and soy). The
positive net carbon emissions would have to be factored into Duke’s total carbon footprint and hinder
achieve of carbon neutrality.
2. The university’s industrial composter, Brooks Contractor, has indicated the inability and an
unwillingness to process bioplastic disposable water bottles. From a technical standpoint, laboratory
decomposition cannot be replicated in their facilities (the top and ring do not fully decompose). As a
philosophical statement, Amy Brooks believes that reusable bottles are the more environmentally
responsible choice.
3. The university’s recycling company, Sonoco, does not have the capacity to process bottles composed of
bioplastic-PET blends due to the differing chemical and physical properties of the materials. A switch
to bioplastics would result in increased costs to Duke due to penalty charges assessed by Sonoco.
4. The head of Duke University Stores, Jim Wilkerson, has definitively indicated that his vendors would
not participate in a voluntary switch to bioplastic bottles.
The optimal choice for Duke is to standardize the use of PET water bottles (which comprise the vast
majority of bottles currently in use on campus) and aggressively pursue various initiatives to improve the
convenience and encourage the use of reusable water bottles.
Bottled Water: A Global Look
Choosing tap water over bottled water may seem like a simple choice: tap water costs much less,
is safer, and often tastes just as good, if not better. Nonetheless, many people continue to buy
bottled water, whether out of convenience or preference.
There are numerous environmental concerns with bottled water: the production and
consumption of bottled water consumes energy, pollutes the environment, and contributes to
global warming. Producing the plastic bottles uses energy and emits toxic chemicals.
Transporting the bottled water across hundreds or thousands of miles spews carbon dioxide into
the air, complicating our efforts to combat global climate change. And in the end, empty bottles
are piling up in landfills.
• Plastic bottle production in the United States annually requires about 17.6 million barrels
of oil.
• Worldwide bottling of water uses about 2.7 million tons of plastic each year.
• About 86 percent of empty plastic water bottles in the United States land in the garbage
instead of being recycled. That amounts to about two million tons of PET plastic bottles
piling up in U.S. landfills each year.
• Many plastic bottles of all types and sizes will be incinerated, which releases toxic
byproducts such as chlorine gas and ash laden with heavy metals.
• Manufacturing the 28.6 billion PET water bottles in the United States takes the
equivalent of 17.6 million barrels of oil.
Bottled water also has significant social implications for communities. Not only does bottled
water contribute to a global lack of drinking water, it also causes local inaccessibility to water. In
privatizing water, bottling corporations limit access to an essential resource that many believe
should always be public. Efforts at Duke University
The Duke University Marine Lab, in Beaufort, NC, has eliminated single use bottles of water
from life and work on campus. This elimination of single use bottles includes Dining
Operations, Catering and all vending machines on the Pivers’s Island Campus.
The Office of the Provost at Duke University has eliminated single use bottled water containers. The change was inspired by Provost Peter Lange after he heard Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
inductee Jackson Browne speak about the importance of living sustainably. Lange banned
plastic water bottles from the administrative offices on the second floor of the Allen Building. The office has switched from plastic bottles to a cooler and paper cups. Many employees have
purchased durable water bottles and mugs to use instead of paper cups, eliminating even more
Duke Continuing Medical Education has discontinued their purchase of single use bottled
water. 22
Duke University has recently undertaken several efforts to eliminate single use water bottles at
At Duke University, the student-run Take Back the Tap Campaign aims to make tap water more
readily available on campus, to change students’ perceptions about drinking water, and,
ultimately, to eliminate bottled water sales on campus. The Environmental Alliance began its
Take Back the Tap campaign in the spring of 2009 with a series of taste tests on The Plaza.
During the summer of 2009, they tested Duke's tap water from several sources and found it to
be free of eight common contaminants.
Hydration Station Unit Reviews:
Britta Hydration Station
Britta offers two models of hydration stations, a surface mount (on-wall) model and a recessed
model (in-wall).
The recessed model is 30.25 in. by 15 in. by 3.9 in. and weighs 33 pounds. Both models feature
an advanced filtration system that has been certified to remove chlorine taste and odors, lead, and
99.9% of cysts. They are also both sensor operated, allowing for touch-free, hygienic operation.
Further, these models are antimicrobially treated by the natural protect of silver against mold and
mildew. Lastly, every 24 hours, these systems automatically purge.
The Britta hydration stations fill at 0.5 GPM, and the laminar flow helps prevent spillage. When
the filter requires replacement, an LED light on the front panel indicates this- green (good),
yellow (replace soon), red (replace now).
Britta’s models have received numerous water-quality, electrical, and plumbing certifications.
Filters last for approximately 2,500 gallons.
The units require a line voltage of 110V AC and a frequency of 50Hz to 60Hz.
Additional options for the HCR8 model include a water chiller attachment.
$2,150.00 per installed unit.
Oasis Hydration Stations
The Oasis VersaFiller is a dual-purpose fountain and bottle filler. It accomadates refillable
bottled of almost any size and dispenses with and without electricity. More of a retrofit than a
standalone unit.
This model is also certified by water-quality groups.
Feature include:
Lead-free waterways
Brushed stainless steel cabinet
Heavy-duty galvanized steel frame bolts directly to the wall
Freshield® antimicrobial alcove and activation button to resist mildew, discoloration,
odors and degradation
5-year limited warranty
The listed price for Oasis Versafiller’s is $1675, but they can be found online for
The Oasis AquaPointe is listed at $1600. It offers refrigerated or ambient filtered water.
Options for a completely reusable housing and biodegradable filter are available.
Feature include:
• Installs directly into existing water lines
• Lead-free waterways
• Built-in, 100-micron strainer stops particles from entering waterway
• Heavy-duty steel frame bolts directly to the wall
• Uses R-134a refrigerant
• 1-year warranty on refrigeration system Elkay Hydration Stations
The Elkay Retrofit Bottle Filling Station (Elkay EZH2O LZWSRK) is priced at $491.30.
Features include:
• Retro Kit attaches to most 115V/60Hz EZ push bar-activated water coolers to create
a bottle filling station
Space saving ADA-compliant design
Sanitary, no-touch, sensor activation with automatic 30-second shut-off timer
WaterSentry Plus 3000 gallon filter included
Silver Ion anti-microbial protection
Quick fill rate is 1.1 GPM for refrigerated units
Laminar flow provides minimal splash
Filter Monitor indicating when replacement is necessary
Green Ticker counts the quantity of 12 oz. bottles saved for refrigerated units
Constructed of durable 18 gauge stainless steel and ABS plastic
The Elkay Surface Mount
-Installs directly onto wall with robust hanging
- Sanitary, no-touch, sensor activation with
automatic 20-second shut-off timer
- WaterSentry®Plus 3000 gallon filter included
Silver Ion anti-microbial protection
- Quick fill rate is 1.5 gpm standard; 1.1 gpm
when paired with remote chiller
- Laminar flow provides minimal splash
-Visual user interface display includes:
-Filter Monitor indicating when replacement is necessary
- Green Ticker counting the quantity of plastic bottles saved from waste
-Optional remote chiller packages installed within 15 feet delivers chilled drinking water
This unit is priced at $1316.65.
Elkay In-Wall SwirFlo
Unit priced at $3,305.50
Features include:
Complete with EZH2O in-wall and SwirlFlo GRN models including ECH8GRN with high-efficiency
refrigeration system
ADA compliant design
Sanitary, no-touch, sensor activation with automatic 20 -second shut-off timer
WaterSentry Plus 3000 gallon filter included
Bi-level models include two ECH8GRN chillers and additional WaterSentry VII filter
Quick fill rate of 1.1 gpm
Includes mounting frame for quick and simple installation
Hinged door for easy servicing
Halsey Taylor
HTHB-HAC-RF HydroBoost Retrofit Kit with Filter
Unit Priced at $564.50
Bottle filling station designed to retro-fit existing HAC pushbar activated models. Applicable on 115V models only.
Rated for indoor use. Supplied with redesigned basin to ensure proper fit and allow for easy installation. Ideal for
use in sports and fitness centers, educational and healthcare facilities, airports, office buildings and many other
commercial buildings.
HydroBoost™ Retro-Fit Bottle Filling Station
Sensor-activated enhanced with user interface graphics. Quick fill rate is 1.5 gallons per minute on refrigerated
model and 1.1 gallons per minute on ambient model. Laminar flow provides a clean fill with minimal splash and easy
Equipped with an automatic 20-second shut-off timer. Key plastic components are integrated with silver ion antimicrobial protection to inhibit growth of mold and mildew.
Green Counter
Visually displays count of plastic bottles saved from the landfills.
Easy installation with Halsey Taylor water fountains, which we already have in Perkins and
Bostock library.
Price quotes are available through Halsey Taylor, but comparable models with other companies
cost about $3000.
Below are compatible Halsey Taylor Units with this model.
Recommendations: Considering we have Halsey Taylor water fountains in all of the main
buildings on campus from personal observation, the HT Hydroboost Retrofit Kit with Filter
(priced at $564.50) makes the most sense to me from a fiscal and an installation feasibility
It might be beneficial to put in on the aesthetically please models, like the Britta Recessed mount
in a high-traffic area (such as the great hall), but in order to make the most change without
incurring high costs on the University, I recommend the HT Hydroboost Retrofit Kit with Filter
Hydration stations.
Data Break-Down
Number of Responses
Percentage of bottles respondent recycles
Who own a reusable bottle
Who use a on a regular basis
Contact Name
Email Address
Tavey Capps
Environmental Sustainability Director
Arwen Buchholz
Program Coordinator-Recycling and Waste
Casey Roe
Outreach Coordinator
Rebecca Dunning
Professor - ENV 171
Rebecca Fisher
Teaching Assistant - ENV 171
Jacob Crabtree
Chris Kachadoorian
Walter Gurzynski
Jonathan Salzman
Blair White
Group Email Address
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