Friday, July 10, 2009

Bundanoon, Australia Leads The Way!!

Logo courtesty: Bundy On Tap Working Group / Karen Gray

Bundanoon is a town in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia. The town’s name is an Aboriginal word meaning "place of deep gullies" and was formerly known as Jordan's Crossing. Bundanoon is colloquially known as Bundy / Bundi (hence Bundy On Tap).

The residents of Bundanoon, population hovering around 2,000, voted at a community hall meeting to overwhelmingly support a proposal that would make Bundanoon the first Australian bottled-water-free town. It is suspected that Bundanoon is actually the world’s first bottled-water-free zone. Sounds like paradise to me!

Photo: Warren McLaren / INOV8

The idea was first raised in an open letter to the town’s community newspaper. Sensing a good idea when they read it, a working group of local residents from Bundanoon developed the concept further and called it Bundy On Tap. They canvassed local businesses and events to gauge how much support they would receive from that quarter.

Showing far-sightedness and concern for the environment, about 20 local businesses endorsed the project; even though, approximately 50% of them stood to lose revenue from the venture as they were beverage retailers. However, recognizing the environmental impact of bottled water, they felt the benefit to the community far outweighed the sales profit. If only all retailers looked at life the same way!

July 8, 2009, an estimated 400 local people filled the community hall and voted in the venture with only one or two persons not in favour. Bundanoon has definitely shown the way with this town’s residents making their own decision, taking localized action on environmental issues; and, all without waiting for external forces to either do the work for them or force them into it. In fact, they have inspired the state of New South Wales to follow suit. What are the immigration rules for Bundanoon, anyway?

Good idea; but, how does it work? The town’s retailers will no longer sell single-use, bottled still water in their drinks fridges. However, sparkling water, fruit juices, and like products will still be sold as they are not available via the municipal water system. Instead of the single-use still-water bottles, stores will sell affordable, reusable, refillable water bottles. Some stores are even considering installing in-store chilled water filters, so their customers have access to filtered water for their reusable water bottles.

In addition, the town will install three filtered water ‘bubblers’ or water stations. These stations will be prominently sign-posted and have the ability to refill the water bottles. Two of these ‘bubblers’ will be situated in the town and one ‘bubbler’ will be installed in the primary school. All this is being done with the assistance of the Bottled Water Alliance (a campaign of the organization “Do Something”), Street Furniture Australia, and Culligan Water.

It is anticipated that this will all be completed by October 2009.

Photo: Warren McLaren / INOV8

The morning of the vote, the events were covered by Australian, American, British, New Zealander, and Japanese media crews – all this for a town of about 2,000 people. Just goes to show that the issue of bottled water that has captured the public’s attention and polarized opinions.

Treehugger reveals that information compiled by the Bundy On Tap campaign shows that:
Australia’s annual consumption of bottled water is about 540 million litres. To sell this much bottled water the industry uses approximately 1 billion litres of water each year. In environmental terms the production and distribution of this volume of bottled water created more than 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the emissions 13,000 cars generate in one year.

The NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change estimates that 200ml of oil is used to produce, package, transport and refrigerate each litre bottle of bottled water. As a result, at least 50 million litres of oil is used in the manufacture and distribution of bottled water in Australia every year. Thus bottled water has a higher carbon footprint, that is more than 300 times greater per litre than tap water.

A comprehensive American study found the total energy required for bottled water production was as much as 2,000 times the energy cost of producing tapwater. Much of that energy, in the form of plastic created from limited oil reserves, is squandered as up to 65% of single use bottles used for commercial bottled water in Australia are not recycled, finding their way into landfill or waterways.

Yet bottled water costs 500 times more that the water readily available from municipally provided taps. In many cases, it is, in fact, the same water. Many millions of litres of bottled water sold in Australia is sourced from municipal water. Nor is bottled water necessarily any more safe. In Australia bacteria, chemical disinfectants and aluminium have been found in bottled water samples.

Check out the video below for more!

1 comment:

kathi said...

Since they are an island whose garbage can not only wash out to sea but can be the stopping point for the garbage islands to wash up upon, I'm glad Australia is leading.

If you watch "Big Brother," listen to Julie Chen ( or describe the "green house" starting with plastic flowers. I posted a "WTF?????!!!!" in nicer words, on the blog.