Wicklow schools are cutting back on single use bottles
WICKLOW schools are leading the way when it comes to protecting the environment as students throughout the county embrace a new plastic-free initiative.
In an effort to cut down on the use of single-use plastic bottles, Wicklow County Council installed water filling stations in three secondary schools around the county last November.
The stations, which were fitted in Colaiste Chraobh Abhann in Kilcoole, Colaiste Bhride in Carnew and St Mary’s College, Arklow, have proven so popular that plans are already afoot to install additional fountains to cope with demand.
Colaiste Chraobh Abhann reported the highest use with bottles being refilled from the mains-fed fountain some 48,625 times in the first six months since installation.
Deputy Principal Rory Farrell said the school’s student leaders are working towards acquiring another refill station.
‘The students are really passionate about it, they’re talking about putting a reusable water bottle on the book list for next year,’ he said.
‘We’d love to get a second one, we have 750 students and there’s always a big queue for the water, especially in the mornings.’
All three schools found that the water refill stations have reduced the amount of plastic waste generated in their schools and that the project was enthusiastically embraced by students.
Funded by the Environmental Protection Agency under the National Waste Prevention Programme, the aim of the project was to displace single use plastics in the county’s secondary schools.
While at primary level students commonly use refillable bottles and beakers, the inverse occurs at secondary where over 80 per cent either buy a drink in school or outside of school.
Surveys carried out by Wicklow County Council with the participating schools show that 50 per cent own a reusable bottle but that much less use one on a regular basis.
The survey highlight that students were aware of the cost, health and environmental benefits to drinking refill water.
The machines selected have a counter to measure usage. They have a bottle filling outlet as well as a traditional drinking fountain. The counters showed that all three machines were each used tens of thousands of times.
St Mary’s College is looking at banning single use plastic bottles altogether from its campus while Colaiste Bhride in Carnew were delighted to get the machine as it was a purchase they had been considering in order to support the ongoing work of their Green School committee.