Wick­low schools are cut­ting back on sin­gle use bot­tles

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - NEWS -

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.

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