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Drinking Water: New service models in Melbourne

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on October 13th, 2011

Photo by Harry Troedel

Article by Kate Archdeacon:

Last week the Southbank Campus of the Victorian College of the Arts stopped selling bottled water through its vending machines, bars and cafés, with the support of staff, students, commercial tenants and Sharyn Lowe from Do Something! Water is now available through public water fountains (Aquabubblers) across the campus, as well as in the ReSauce café on site.  Harry Troedel, Sustainability Manager, Implementation, at the University of Melbourne, explained that including the café tenants in discussions about the move away from bottled water allowed them to make decisions about the services they could offer instead.  As a result, ReSauce now owns and operates a Freshie water vending machine.  Patrons can refill their bottles from the machine, with prices varying depending on what type of water they buy.  The choices range from chilled, filtered, sparkling, and flavoured water, with prices coming out at considerably less than a single-use bottle.  The water from the Aquabubblers is the same quality and temperature as tap water, so the café has an opportunity to provide a point of difference.

As part of the initiative launch, Vestal Water gave away some of their stainless steel water bottles.  Vestal Water are developing new services around water supply – they have a V.I.P. card which allows the bearer to refill their water bottle for free at participating outlets (cafes, service stations etc) on purchase of a hot drink, and they are developing a refill station map to support this promotion.  Mr. Troedel says that Hairy Little Sista, the bar at Council House 2 (CH2) has replaced their bottled water with a Vestal Water system.

Shifting water consumption away from throwaway packaging while still providing quality products has been proposed as a great product-service-system in many student designs we’ve seen at VEIL.  It’s great to see some real-world examples emerging in Melbourne.

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