You are here[Liverpool] Council to ditch bottled water
[Liverpool] Council to ditch bottled water
Larry Neild, Daily Post (Liverpool) - NEARLY 20,000 Town Hall staff in Liverpool face a workplace ban on expensive bottled water - and will be told to drink tap water instead.
Council staff and politicians in the city are to be asked to make the switch to help save the planet, councillors will be told at tomorrow's meeting of the city council.
Last year, the council spent £48,000 buying commercially bottled water for its staff and councillors.
Labour's green issues spokesman, Cllr Nick Small, wants all expensive bottled water to be phased out at council and committee meetings, with councillors served jugs of tap water instead.
He also wants cooled-water dispensers in council offices to be removed, with office staff told instead to sip tap water.
A spokesman for Liverpool City Council said: "When council buildings are refurbished, we are installing running water supplies to avoid the use of bottled water."
The proposed switch to "Corpy pop" provoked an immediate response from the main union representing thousands of council workers, Unison, who believe it may represent a health and safety hazard.
But last night Cllr Small - himself a tap-water drinker - insisted his plan is aimed at helping Liverpool win its green credentials.
Cllr Richard Marbrow, the city's executive member for Central Services, said the council's decision-making executive board has already ditched bottled water for tap water.
Backed by council colleague, Cllr Sharon Sullivan, Cllr Small will be making his call at tomorrow's meeting of the city council.
He said there was already widespread use of bottled water in council premises, workplaces and at council meetings.
Cllr Small said: "In light of Liverpool's Fairtrade City status and the council's aspirations for Liverpool to become the leading Fairtrade city in the UK and the greenest city in Europe, I want the council to agree that the use of bottled water should be phased out in all council premises and workplaces and at council meetings, and that tap water should be made available as an alternative."
He said the first step should be to replace bottled water with tap water at meetings of politicians, followed by consultations with staff about cool-water dispensers at council offices.
"I will be requesting the executive member for Central Services to bring forward plans, following consultations with trade unions representing council employees and the staff forum, to do this as soon as possible."
Cllr Marbrow said: "If we can replace drinking dispensers with tap water, I am happy to do it. I have no problem at all drinking water straight from the tap.
"I ammore thanhappy to look at this suggestion, but inmany cases it has already happened. There could be problemswithin council offices because we have to supply drinking water to staff and it will depend on whether there is a kitchen area with a drinking water supply. "
A spokeswoman for United Utilities said last night: "Tap water in the North West is some of the best in the world. We carry out more than 500,000 tests a year to make sure it meets the strictest drinking water standards. It's delivered right to your tap and, at less than a tenth of a penny per litre, it is excellent value too."
More than 2bn litres of bottled water are sold in the UK every year and sales are growing at nearly 9% a year - one of the highest growth areas in retail.
At an average of 95p per litre, it costs as much as petrol, representing 16% of soft drinks sold in the UK, with Britons consuming 37 litres of bottled water a year.
Unison branch secretary Angela Blundell said: "There has been no consultation with the trade unions. Our initial response is that given the age of the majority of council buildings, and facilities there, it could be a potential health and safety issue.
"Also, given the temperature problems in certain council buildings in the summer period, this is also a potential healthand safety issue - we expect cold, safe water to be available in all workplaces."
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Tap water greener than bottled
A RECENT report, "Have you bottled it?", produced by environmental organisation Sustain, outlined how drinking tap water can help save the planet.
The report highlights the environmental issues caused by bottled water:
bottled water costs around 500 times more than tap water'
bottles contribute to the half a million tonnes of plastic thrown away each year'
the bottled water industry in the UK generated annually about 33,200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions through transport - equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 6,000 homes.
two litres of water are used to produce one litre of bottled water.
The World Wide Fund for Nature helped spark the debate about bottled and tap water in 2001 - claiming bottled was no healthier or safer than tap water.
And it went as far as to claim that drinking bottled water was environmentally unfriendly. Its research suggested bottled water sells for up to 1,000 times the price of tap water, with no difference in quality.
The WWF believes boiling or filtering local water is cheaper and more sustainable. Long-term, it would like municipal water supplies to be cleaned up.
A spokesman for Water UK, which represents suppliers of tap water, said: "We don't think there are any impurities in tap water. "If people like the bottle, the convenience, the style, then fine, but tap water is pure, and that's the opinion of the drinking water inspectorate, which carries out three million checks a year."
Worldwide it is estimated that 154 billion litres of bottled water, generating revenues of £58bn, are now consumed each year.