09 July 2009

Bundy on tap

I've previously written about the ethics of bottled water. The small New South Wales highland town of Bundanoon last night voted to ban bottled water. Reported in the local newspaper Southern Highland News (9 July 2009)

Bundanoon bans bottled water
9/07/2009 5:39:00 PM
BUNDANOON'S "Bundy on Tap" campaign has spurred Premier Nathan Rees into action to reduce the use of commercially bottled water across the state.

As news of Bundanoon's move to become Australia's first bottled water free town flashed around the world on Wednesday, Mr Rees announced that he would ban all bottled water from government departments and agencies and seek "urgent advice" on ways to persuade consumers to drink less bottled water.

At a public meeting on Wednesday night, more than 350 people endorsed Bundanoon businesses' decision to remove bottled still water from their shelves from September.

Businesses will instead sell a reusable "Bundy on Tap" bottle that can be filled with chilled, filtered water from shops or bubblers in the main street.

Culligan Water has donated three $6000 water filters and bubblers to kick off the "Bundy On Tap" campaign.

One will go to the Bundanoon Public School to encourage children to drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Bundanoon Community Association will seek Wingecarribee Council's help to plumb the other two into the main street.

Planet Ark co-founder John Dee, who led the push to have Coles Bay in Tasmania declared Australia's first plastic bag free town, said Mr Rees' announcement showed the power of the community to inspire real change.

"It won't just be good for Bundanoon, it will provide a role model for everyone to follow."

Bundanoon Newagent Peter Stewart said businesses would lose revenue as a result of getting rid of bottled water.

"But there are more positive things than the money that we'll lose," he said.

Mr Stewart said the publicity generated by the "Bundy on Tap" campaign would attract more visitors to the town.

He urged Bundanoon residents to support the businesses taking part by shopping locally wherever possible.

"If there is a community that is going to go bottled water free, then it's got to be Bundanoon," he said.

"Bundy On Tap" co-ordinator Huw Kingston said Norlex Holding's plans to bottle and sell Bundanoon groundwater was a catalyst for the program.

But the move to declare Bundanoon a bottled water free town was driven by concern over the environmental cost of pumping, bottling, transporting bottled water and disposing of plastic bottles, rather than a protest against Norlex, he said.

"If we were saying we were against water extraction, the logical step is to say no to the end product," he said.

"We have a magnificent community in Bundanoon in all sorts of ways and this campaign has been supported all the way through."

Only two people at the meeting voted against the "Bundy on Tap" campaign: One was a resident concerned about that banning bottled water would force children to turn to sugary drinks, the other was Australian Bottled Water Institute chief executive Geoff Parker.

Mr Parker commended the community on coming together on an "emotive issue" but warned that a ban on bottled water could harm tourism.

"If you ban bottled water in Bundanoon, you are taking away choice and that is what the Premier has done without consultation with the community," he said.

"Have you considered tourists who choose to come here, only to line up at bubblers?"

But Mr Dee said the Coles Bay has shown that the ban could have a positive effect on the community.

"Why is the [bottled water] industry giving the Bundanoon community no choice regarding the bottled water plant here?" Mr Dee said in response to Mr Parker.

"Why are we paying for [bottled] water when filtered water is just as good if not better?"

Mr Dee said the Bundanoon meeting's response sent a strong message to the bottled water industry.

"At the end of the day, when a community is as unified as this, you can take on any company," he said.

* Wingecarribee Council has approved Norlex Holdings application to build shops and a light industrial warehouse at Anzac Parade Bundanoon, despite residents' fears that the warehouse will be used to bottle water pumped from Governor's Road.

Amazing decision. As for the New South Wales government banning bottled water, it would be difficult to justify using government funds (from tax payers) to purchase bottled water when it is available from a tap at no additional cost.

No comments: