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Portland State ramps up efforts to curb bottled water waste
Author: Jenny DuVander
Posted: September 6, 2011

Portland State University (PSU) President Wim Wiewel established a task force today to fast track the reduction of plastic water bottle waste on campus.

The Sustainable Drinking Water Task Force, comprised of students and staff, is charged with getting people to ditch bottled water and drink city tap water instead.

“We want to be a model for how large institutions can reduce this unnecessary waste stream,” Wiewel said. “The two dollars spent on a bottle of water buys more than 700 gallons of Portland drinking water, which is some of the world’s best.”

The group includes students from PSU’s “Take Back the Tap” campaign, which has installed 11 filtered water stations across campus and plans to install 10 more in the next year.

“The filling stations are helping overcome two major barriers to drinking tap water: convenience and perceptions about purity,” said Jacob Sherman, a student with Take Back the Tap, which was formed at PSU in 2008 and has since received national recognition.

Water use data collected from one station was equivalent to 38,000 plastic bottles in a single year, Sherman said. PSU’s student government has already restricted the use of student fees to purchase bottled water.

A 25 percent reduction in all campus solid waste by 2030 is a key component of Portland State’s 2010 Climate Action Plan, which charts the university’s path to carbon neutrality.

PSU’s campus employs a number of innovations for water conservation and reuse, with buildings such as the campus recreation center using rainwater to flush toilets.