I read with interest the Nov. 15 article by Sylvie Paillard entitled, "Students seek ban on plastic bottles."
In Ms. Paillard's well-written piece, there are a few errors of fact.
Independent scientific studies over the years have concluded that plastic beverage containers have a lower carbon footprint than aluminum, glass or steel containers. Plastic beverage containers can be recycled and re-made into new containers over and over again, as long as they are not contaminated.
Scientists now question the validity of the existence of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch as described by environmentalist Charles Moore, including Oregon State oceanographer, Prof. Angelicque White.
White recently stated the patch is "not twice the size of Texas. You can't see it from space. It's not even something you can see from the deck of a ship.
"There is no doubt that the amount of plastic in the world's oceans is troubling, but this kind of exaggeration undermines the credibility of scientists. Given the observed concentration of plastic in the North Pacific, it is simply inaccurate to state that plastic outweighs plankton or that we have observed an exponential increase in plastic."
We agree that water is a human right, but the fact is it's also a commodity - and a fundamental requirement for the growth, processing, manufacture and distribution of all foods we consume. It is the essence of life. The bottled water industry had nothing to do with this historical fact.
Purchasing bottled water does not impact much-needed investments in Canada's water and sewer infrastructure. Canadians pay local, provincial and federal taxes with the expectation a portion of those funds will be invested to properly maintain their municipal water systems. They spend their disposable income on a myriad of consumer items, including bottled water.
What should be of concern to Thompson Rivers University administration and students is a 2009 Toronto District School Board report that enunciated the problems associated with banning the sale of bottled water in schools.
Board staff wrote "students have access to 35 per cent of the water needed for proper hydration during the school day" and, when bottled water was temporarily removed as part of their study into the matter, "of those students who normally purchased bottled water at school, 22 per cent drank nothing at all and those who substituted pop or soft drinks for water outnumbered those who chose milk or juice."
Staff warned there is a direct link between hydration and brain function and "a mere two per cent drop in body water can trigger short-term fuzzy memory, trouble with basic math and difficulty focusing on a computer screen."
While we are opposed to any banning of bottled water at the university, we are not opposed to filtered-water filling stations or water fountains, as long as operating funds are in place to properly maintain them. We simply believe staff and students have the right to select and consume the beverage of their choice.
We trust the administration will reach out to all stakeholders before it renders its final decision - and conclude the matter by continuing to permit the sale of bottled water on campus, thereby putting the health of its staff and students ahead of all other considerations.
JOHN B. CHALLINOR II
Director of corporate affairs
NestlÉ Waters Canada
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