Metal water bottles for sale in U of O vending machines

After banning the sale of bottled water on campus in 2010 to cut down on waste produced by plastic bottles, the University of Ottawa has launched a new initiative — selling aluminum bottles in campus vending machines.

Bottles cost $3 each

Celeste Digiovanni may have found a solution for schools that have banned the sale of bottled water on campus. (University of Ottawa)

After banning the sale of bottled water on campus in 2010 to cut down on waste produced by plastic bottles, the University of Ottawa has launched a new initiative — selling aluminum bottles in campus vending machines.

It's something you can just grab if you forget your bottle, and you don't feel super bad about it.- Celeste  Digiovanni  University of Ottawa student 

Celeste Digiovanni, a graduate student at the university, is the architect of the new initiative. She said the plastic water bottle ban left a gap for students who wanted easy access to transportable water.

"It's something you can just grab if you forget your bottle, and you don't feel super bad about it," said Digiovanni on CBC's Ottawa Morning.

She said many students — herself included — were buying bottled beverages, such as pop, from vending machines and reusing the bottles for water.

"Plastic is actually downcycled, every time you recycle a piece of plastic, only a fraction of that plastic is reused," Digiovanni said.

Wanted portable access to water

Digiovanni met with the campus sustainability manager and landed herself an internship with the sustainability office to come up with a plan to come up with a solution.

"I was super torn, because on the one hand I agreed with the ethical implications and the environmental good — but on the other hand I still wanted a portable way to access water on campus."

Ultimately they decided to sell aluminum bottles in vending machines.

The metal water bottles, which can be bought at University of Ottawa campus vending machines, cost $3 each. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

The bottles cost $3 each, and are sold empty — that way students are still encouraged to use public water and at the same time making it portable.

The bottles can be used over and over again.

Digiovanni now hopes that other schools might look at the new program for inspiration.

"I'm really hoping they might take it on."