Write and Respond 1: Water Bottle Refill Stations

Water bottle refill stations are everywhere now, they not only help keep students hydrated but the water is free. It’s general knowledge that plastic bottles are bad for the environment. To encourage the usage of reusable water bottles many college and universities have installed water bottle refilling stations around campus. Penn State students should take advantage of all the benefits these stations offer.

Penn State has many Elkay refillable water bottle stations across campus. Some of the highest trafficked ones are in the Hub-Robeson center and the library. These refillable water bottle stations are great investments ranging from $500 to $1,500. Based off how frequently these stations are used, this will be a good investment. There are many different types of stations that include water fountains. The stations are not too costly to maintain. It can cost from $600 to $1,200 depending on how often the station is used. Although Penn State does have to invest a substantial amount of money into these water bottle refill stations, it is worth it because so many students fill their bottles up. More and more students have become more aware of the benefits of using refillable water bottles. It is cheaper since the water at these stations are free, and it is also cheaper because this is filtered clean water that can keep these students fully hydrated. From this source I was also able to find that the stations fill up to 16 ounces in 5 seconds, where as a traditional water fountain requires at least 20 seconds. The refillable station uses sensor technology so when the water bottle is placed in front of the sensor, the water will begin to flow but once the bottle is moved away from the sensor, the water will stop flowing. It also has a feature that stops flowing water after 20 seconds if someone fails to take their water bottle away. This prevents from an excess waste of water. The Elkay refill stations have an advanced filtering system. It removes items such as chlorine, odor and lead.

Photo found here.

At the top of each water bottle refill station there is a number of how many bottles it has filled since the filter has been changed. The amount of bottles are well into the thousands before the filter has to be replaced. As mentioned earlier, maintenance can be a little different for each station depending on the amount of use. I wanted to find out how much money is saved filling your reusable water bottle at a certain station instead of purchasing a plastic bottle of water. For this problem I chose to estimate a very high frequented station, the one at the Hub-Robeson Center. Here is the main information that I have gathered:

  • There are approximately 46,000 students at Penn State
  • The approximate number of people who pass through the hub on a given week day: 20,000
  • Estimation of 40% (0.4) of people passing through the hub will stop and use the water bottle refill station
  • An average refillable water bottle is about 750 mL
  • An average plastic water bottle is about 500 mL
  • An individual water bottle costs approximately $1.50

\[20,000 \text{ people } \times \frac {0.4}{1 \text{ person }} = 8,000 \text { uses }\]

\[8,000 \text{ uses } \times \frac {750 \text{ mL }}{1 \text{ use }} = 6,000,000 \text{ mL } \]

\[6,000,000 \text{ mL } \times \frac {1 \text{ bottle }}{500 \text{ mL }} = 12,000 \text{ bottles } \]

\[12,000 \text{ bottles } \times \frac {\$1.25}{1 \text { bottle}} = \$15,000 \text { saved } \]

Based off of my estimates and calculations, one of those high trafficked Elkay water bottle refill stations saves approximately $15,000 a day. Which is 12,000 plastic water bottles less used in a day.

Penn State takes sustainability and waste management very seriously. There are many Eco-friendly programs that take place on the University Park campus. One action taken by Penn State that is widely known by the students is adding these water bottle refilling stations. Based off of this website, there is a total of 103 stations across the Penn State University Park campus. It costs approximately $4,000-$4,500 to install the refill stations. Maintenance of these water bottle stations range from $600-$650. Although stations that have a high usage or traffic intake can cost up to $2,500 in maintenance. Although refillable water bottle stations have been made accessible to everyone on campus, there are still many plastic water bottles being used. Each year, Penn State recycles 200 tons of plastic bottles which is approximately 7.6 million water bottles.

Photo found here.

There are plenty of college campuses across the United States that have refillable water bottle stations as well. Many students have written about the stations and have only had positive things to say about it. One student from GMU writes about the top five benefits from using the water bottle refill station in this blog post. It was stated in the post that if you were to replace 200 bottles of water a year with free refillable water you would save approximately $300 annually. That is a very substantial amount of money saved by using a service that is free and found all over campus. These Elkay refillable water bottle stations also help students stay healthy and hydrated. The water is filtered and clean to drink. The author mentions a few key points to catch the eyes of college students. He states that by using these water bottle stations you are saving the environment, saving your money, staying healthy and hydrated all while looking stylish with your choice of reusable water bottle. He also mentions how colleges will place these stations in convenient locations so the majority of students can fill up their water bottle on the way to class.

Penn State University Park has 103 refillable water bottle stations currently. Although the installation and maintenance is costly, it doesn’t compare to the amount of money being saved by students and faculty who use those stations. The water at these stations are free and filtered. There is no longer a need to purchase plastic water bottles that may or may not be recycled properly. Many people now know that spending a little more for a reusable water bottle is worth it because it does save you money in the long run and produces less waste.

Bibliography

“Elkay Unveils Energy and Maintenance Saving Features to Popular Bottle Filling Stations.” Elkay, www.elkay.com/news-ezh2o-june-2015. Accessed 17 Sept. 2017.

Vaughn, Jud. “Five Reasons to Use Our Water Bottle Filing Stations.” Student Centers, 12 Sept. 2017, studentcenters.gmu.edu/water-bottle-filling-stations/. Accessed 17 Sept. 2017.

“Water bottle refill stations.” Sustainability.psu.edu, sustainability.psu.edu/waterbottles. Accessed 17 Sept. 2017.

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