The University of Vermont has announced that it will end the sale of bottled water on campus and mandate that one-third of drinks offered in onsite vending machines be "healthy" options (flavored water without added sugar; reduced calorie carbonated beverages; flavored teas, fruit drinks and sports drinks with reduced calories; flavored beverages containing water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes; juices with 50 percent or more real fruit juice; and low-fat dairy beverages).
The announcement comes five months prior to the end of a 10-year contract with Coca-Cola of Northern New England that allowed the company to provide all beverages sold in campus vending machines and 80 percent of bottled beverages served in retail, residential dining and catering, a total of more than 1.1 million bottles per year.
As of July 1, UV will no longer have a corporate beverage contract with exclusive "pouring rights." Instead, Sodexo, which manages the school's dining services, as well as the bookstore and the CAT Pause campus c-store, will choose a mix of beverages through their own national contracts and local connections.
The sale of flat, unflavored bottled water in the school's 57 vending machines and in its retail outlets will end in January of 2013, allowing time to convert drinking fountains across campus to bottle filling stations similar to one already in place in the Dudley H. Davis Student Center, and for Dining Services and the stores to make adjustments.
Student efforts to reduce the usage of bottled water were already making an impact before this announcement, with sales dropping from 362,000 bottles in 2007 to 235,000 in 2010. According to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, UV is one of the first public institutions in the U.S., and among just 15 in North America, to eliminate bottled water sales from campus.
The university will release an RFP in February for the vending contract, which has comprised less than 20 percent of bottled beverages sold as part of the 10-year contract. The new vending services contract will end in 2015, coinciding with the end of the existing university dining contract.