New water bubblers for UNSW Sydney campuses

| 23 Mar 2020

UNSW Sydney has taken another step to reduce single-use plastic waste by installing 10 new water refill stations across Kensington, Paddington and Randwick campuses.

The move sees UNSW reducing plastic waste by making it easier for staff, students and visitors to rehydrate for free, without the need for single-use bottled water.

In total, there are now 19 bubblers at Kensington campus and four at other campuses. They are installed near popular walkways, cycle routes, food courts, and main venues making them visible and accessible to all. See where they are on the UNSW Sustainability map. 

They are designed to be hygienic and easy to use when refilling a bottle. They are also easy to access for wheelchair users and children. 

UNSW student drinking from water bubbler

UNSW students appreciate the new bubblers 

Bachelor of Arts/Law student Ellen Cameron said: “It’s so great that there are so many new bubblers - the taps around the campus mean I can stay hydrated without breaking the bank.”

Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) student Margarete Hostmann said: “It's really easy to refill my water bottle on campus, as the bubblers are close to my lectures. It doesn't make sense anymore to buy a bottle of water, because you end up with so many bottles and you waste so much money. The new water bubblers on campus mean I can now do the absolute minimum to reduce my plastic footprint.”

Bachelor of International Studies/Media student Luciana Wong said: “I like having more bubblers on campus, they’ve become very convenient to use. It’s great that the campus is environmentally friendly; it’s helping me lessen my plastic footprint.”

What's wrong with plastic? 

Plastic bottles are made from crude oil and bottled water has to be pumped, packaged, transported and chilled before it reaches the customer. 

As a result, it takes 3-7 litres of water and one litre of oil to produce one litre of bottled water. According to the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, the bottled water industry causes the release of 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas every year in Australia alone.

Globally, only a small percentage of single-use water bottles are recycled, with many ending up in waterways and oceans where they take around 450 years to biodegrade.

UNSW student uses bubbler on campus

UNSW makes tackling plastics a priority

"Our waste audits in 2019 found that 17 per cent of the material in our general waste bins is plastics, and 6 per cent is beverage containers," says Head of Environmental Sustainability Will Syddall. 

"Our water bubblers have always been popular with our students so we have installed more so that wherever you are on our Kensington, Paddington and Randwick campuses you are never far from a free water refill," he said.

"Given that we need to drink at least two litres of water per day, and more if it's hot or we're exercising, it is important to make water easily accessible on campus while avoiding the need for single-use bottled water," he said. 

The move to install the new bubblers fits in with UNSW's ambitious Environmental Sustainability Plan 2019-21 (ESP) launched in mid-2019. 

The ESP is designed to address UNSW’s key environmental issues and defines commitments, targets, and activities across ten focus areas including waste and recycling, energy and water efficiency, and buildings and campus.

The bubblers have been fitted with water meters to allows UNSW to estimate the number of plastic water bottles that have been removed from the waste stream.

Mr Syddall said that UNSW Sustainability will introduce more initiatives to tackle single-use in 2020.

What can you do? 

To reduce your plastic footprint, bring a bottle and refill it at one of our water refill stations around campus.