Eco campaigners tap into plans to ban bottled water

A RADICAL proposal to ban bottled water in council buildings including leisure centres and schools is in the pipeline

Katie Davies

A RADICAL proposal to ban bottled water in council buildings including leisure centres and schools is in the pipeline.

Eco-campaigners on Camden's executive were due to make a splash last night with proposals to prohibit the sale of bottled water.

Along with a new group of Camden water protestors called Tappers, they claim the environmental cost of bottled 'bling' water are too great for the Town Hall to endorse.

The council's eco-champion Alexis Rowell, chair of the sustainability taskforce which framed the policy, thinks there is a good chance the rest of the council will get on board.

He said: "I think it is madness people are carrying around bottles of water when water in the tap is perfectly good. There are also good filtering products which can make it even better.

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"We want to introduce a ban on the sale of bottled water on council premises and at the same time re-introduce public water fountains.

"Islington council already did this a couple of months ago and at a Camden Lib Dem climate change day we agreed this ban was a high priority."

Camden council's discussions come just weeks after a government-led campaign to get restaurants to make tap water more available to customers.

Environment minister Phil Woolas described the importing of bottled water as "morally unacceptable", given the difficulties some countries have getting enough water to live.

Campaigners also say the carbon footprint of bottled water is too damaging - with large amounts of energy spent on making plastic bottles and recycling them as well as the pollution caused in their transport.

Tappers, set up by members of Camden Climate Action Network, is a group encouraging the development of more water fountains throughout the borough.

They are currently campaigning for one on Cantelowes Skate Park so teenagers don't need to bring bottled drinks.

Founder Suzy Edwards said: "We have two aims - to decrease the amount of bottled water used and to increase the number of water fountains.

"The transport of these plastic or even glass bottles has a huge impact and then you have the energy from fridges cooling it. The advertising has told us we appear healthy drinking bottled water and carrying it has become a status symbol - it says something about you, but it's ridiculous considering the quality of the water coming out of the tap.

"If we can halve the amount being refrigerated in Camden's newsagents it would have huge implications for the environment."

Many restaurants are already doing their bit serving tap water to customers - however some are doing more. Salad bar Chop'd in St Pancras International has introduced a water fountain for people to fill up their flasks for free and some other eateries are re-introducing the soda stream to make tap water available and sparkling.

The council was due to discuss the proposal at last night's task force meeting but proposals would need the support of the ruling executive.

The ban would stop the sale of bottled water at Camden Council cafes, including refreshment stalls, during council meetings.