Gottfredson rejects bottled water ban

11/19/2012 video from camera 4 in our Johnson Hall surveillance system:

I’m no environmental economist, but I think a pigouvian tax on the bottles (like the EMU does with coffee cups) would be the efficient solution. But a ban seems like good second best policy. For reasons I don’t understand Gottfredson has rejected it – presumably someone has the contract to sell this stuff on campus? Letter from the students:

Full letter here. Maybe the Climate Justice League will turn its attention to the Gabon greenwashing deal next.

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5 Responses to Gottfredson rejects bottled water ban

  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s not a contractual issue. Randy Geller edited the TBTT policy to tip-toe around the contracts to avoid that very problem.

    Gottfredson vetoed the policy because he doesn’t care what students and university employees want. For him, it’s about his anti-environment views.

  2. Anonymous says:

    If students and employees would not want bottled water, then they would not buy it and the machines would be filled with green tea or organic hard boiled eggs.

    I think it is misleading to compare bottled water to tap water with chlorine. Different products, different health concerns. I remember the big eco-hype for polycarbonate plastic bottles in Oregon – until we heard about bisphenol A (BPA).

  3. I am writing to express our support for President Gottfredson’s decision to continue to respect the individual rights of students, staff, visitors, and alumni to choose refreshing, zero-calorie bottled water by not to supporting a bottled water ban at the University of Oregon.

    The consumption of water, whether from the bottle, the tap, or filtration system, is a good thing and any actions that discourage people from drinking bottled water are not in the public interest. Banning or restricting access to bottled water on college campuses directly impacts the right of people to choose the healthiest beverage on the shelf. And for many, bottled water is a critical alternative to other packaged beverages, which are often less healthy.

    Recent research shows since the year 2000, 73 percent of the growth in bottled water consumption has come from people switching to bottled water from sugary drinks, which include soft drinks, juices, teas, and dairy. And when bottled water is not available for purchase, 63 percent of people choose a sweetened beverage instead – not turning to tap water, as student activists would like people to do.

    It is also the case that bottled water is a critical beverage choice for people who have compromised immune systems. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention warns these individuals not to drink water from the tap as contamination by the Cryptosporidium parasite “can cause severe illness and possibly death.” (Incidentally, the Journal of Water and Health reports that municipal water is responsible for approximately 16.4 million acute gastrointestinal illnesses annually. (Journal of Water and Health 2006; 4(Suppl 2):71—88.)

    In addition, as we’ve just seen on the East Coast of the United States with Hurricane Sandy, access to bottled water is critical in times of emergency – both in preparation and recovery. Bottled water can only be available in a timely manner for emergencies when the industry remains strong and viable.

    It is becoming clear that college bottled water bans, while aimed at eliminating single-serve bottled water on college campuses, are having the unintended effect of shifting consumption to other packaged beverages – ones that are often less healthy and packaged in the same material as bottled water. This shift is having little effect on reducing plastic containers in the waste stream, but is increasing people’s daily calorie intakes, which can contribute to negative health effects.

    All PET plastic bottled water containers are 100 percent recyclable and use of recycled PET (rPET) in bottled water containers is on the rise. According the EPA, plastic bottles make up less than 0.03 percent of the waste stream in the U.S.

    Compared to all other packaged drinks, bottled water has the lightest environmental footprint, lowest water usage ratio, highest curbside recycling rates of all beverages, and has significantly reduced the amount of plastic used in its packaging. The bottled water industry is concerned about low recycling rates in some parts of the country and has developed a Materials Recovery Program to partner with municipalities to improve recycling rates of all consumer products.

    Again, we applaud President Gottfredson’s decision to keep bottled water available at the University of Oregon for those who choose the healthiest beverage on the shelf. To learn more about bottled water, I encourage you to visit

    Chris Hogan
    Vice President of Communications
    International Bottled Water Association

  4. UO Matters says:

    Thanks for this interesting comment, Mr. Hogan. I particularly appreciate your use of economic analysis to explore the potentially bad unintended consequences of this ban!