Despite a hard-fought, student-led campaign against disposable water bottle sales on campus, the proposal to end sales will not go into effect until April 1, 2014, Associated Students Vice President for Student Life Robby Eckroth said.
On the student ballot during spring 2012, the student body voted 73 percent in favor of the proposal. Western Administration planned to begin phasing out disposable water bottles in fall 2013, according to a previous Western Front article.
But even now, halfway into winter quarter, vending machines and markets across campus are still selling bottled water.
In response to the delay of the ban, University Communications will give an official statement in the upcoming weeks, Eckroth said.
Former co-president of Students for Sustainable Water Carolyn Bowie expected the ban to begin sooner, she said.
“The major obstacle that has delayed the implementation of being bottled-water free has to do with revenue,” Bowie said. “We have to face the reality that bottled water is a part of the revenue stream, as part of the Cold Beverage Contract.”
The Cold Beverage Contract is an agreement with Western’s cold beverage supplier — Pepsi Co.
Informing services like Pepsi Co. could prevent a potential loss in revenue, Bowie said.
“To implement this policy in the most strategic way possible, we have to make sure the groups impacted by a potential loss of revenue are aware and in support of the campaign as well,” Bowie said.
AS initiatives only serve as suggestions to college officials, meaning faculty also has a say in the final outcome.
“A lot of the reason for the delay is simply to be as diplomatic and careful as possible,” Bowie said.
The revenue streams of other schools that have banned bottled water have not been significant, Bowie said.
“The bottled water that’s removed from the vending machines and markets will be replaced with other beverages,” Bowie said. “So our hope is that people already seeking a bottled beverage will choose a different drink.”
Bowie expects implementing this plan will encourage students to change their habits on campus toward carrying re-usable water bottles.
With April 1, 2014 in mind, SSW is planning a celebration to mark the end of disposable water bottle sales on campus.
More information will be available at a table at the AS Club Showcase Thursday, Feb. 20, on the Communications Facility lawn.
SSW also plans to hold water bottle bedazzling events later in the quarter, Bowie said.
Editor's note: This article originally contained information from an interview with Robby Eckroth in July regarding the loss of revenue from bottled water sales. This information was found to be incorrect and has been removed from the story.