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Refill initiative to whet enthusiasm for sustainability

New students at USC will receive an early introduction the University's sustainability efforts at the official launch of a significant environmental initiative today (Tuesday 24 February).

USC will declare itself a Total Water Refill Campus at a special ceremony at 11.30am on the busiest day of the University’s Welcome Week (23-27 February) in a move that is expected to save 40,000 plastic water bottles going to landfill each year.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Birgit Lohmann said the phase-out of the sale of bottled water on campus, which began last year, stemmed from a suggestion by USC student Elizabeth Beaumontto the University’s Sustainability Management Committee in 2013.

“Students and staff are very proud and supportive of our commitment to sustainability, which is a strategic priority for the University,” Professor Lohmann said. “We are always open to new ideas that can help us achieve our goals.

“Reusable water bottles will be sold at all of our food venues and there are free water bubblers, some with bottle-refilling taps, dotted all over campus. In addition, we have installed three ProAcqua water refill machines … that dispense filtered and chilled still or sparkling water at minimal cost.”

ProAcqua has invited environmentalist Heidi Taylor to speak at the launch about the work of Tangaroa Blue, a not-for-profit foundation that focuses on the health of Australia’s marine environment. This organisation coordinates the Australian Debris Initiative, which monitors the impact of garbage along the coast.

ProAcqua will distribute 200 reusable bottles and 200 smart cards to students tomorrow to help kick off the USC initiative, which is also supported by DoSomething – a charity organisation that helps enable social and environmental change.

More details about USC’s Water Refill Campus initiative are at:

USC last year won the prestigious Green Gown Award for Carbon Reduction for its efforts in reducing its waste to landfill by a staggering 75 percent. This national award for the university sector was achieved by its strong commitment to composting biodegradable waste and recycling.

New students attending orientation activities of Welcome Week this week will also be introduced to USC’s many other sustainability and environmental initiatives.

These include a community vegetable garden, facilities that encourage bicycle riding, modern architecture designed for the local climate, biodegradable coffee cups, plates and cutlery at cafes, colour-coded rubbish bins for the separating biodegradable waste and recyclables, and even gardens with native plants to attract birds and butterflies.

— Jane Cameron

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