The University of Limerick (UL) has unveiled plans that could dramatically reduce single-use plastic waste and take seven million plastic water bottles out of action.
The Limerick Post today reported that the plan, funded by the Higher Education Authority’s (HEA) Sustainable Development Fund, is part of the university’s drive to create a more environmentally friendly campus and gain the status of a Green Campus.
UL will install water fountains across the campus in order to encourage students to use reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastic bottles.
So far, it has put water fountains in its Glucksman Library that the university says have dispensed 550,000 refills in the last 12 months.
UL says rolling out water fountains across its campus will result in almost three million refills over the next five years. It estimates that once all 43 fountains are installed, the university will cut the number of single-use bottles on campus by seven million between 2019 and 2021.
“Despite a small budget, the effective removal of over 550,000 branded drinking water bottles from circulation on the UL campus in a single year demonstrates the positive environmental impact that a sustainable initiative can deliver”, UL President Dr Des Fitzgerald said in a press statement.
“It also shows that when a tender process is completed with a clear specification, an engaged project team and proactive rollout to a dedicated stakeholder group, it can have a very significant outcome”, he added.
Dr Chris Fogarty, the university’s energy manager, praised the impact of the initiative: “Specifically, the inclusion of a bottle counter as a mandatory requirement facilitates users in tracking their contribution to the reduction of single-use plastics on campus, and can be used to help bring about behaviour change.”
The idea of refill stations originally came from the college’s Environmental Society, which pitched the idea to the Green Campus Committee.