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Shattering the bottled water market: Offering tap water through drinking water fountains

Water fountains at airportsOne of the reasons why the bottled water market remains as is (in a position of domination whereby it’s one of the top 5 most profitable businesses out there, together with scholarly publishing, and yes I recognize the irony in all of this), is the fact that there are institutional and structural factors that drive increases in bottled water consumption. One that I find particularly galling is the fact that there aren’t enough drinking water fountains within cities’ territory. Water provision is a public service that is usually the responsibility of cities. It’s one of the many public services that local governments are entrusted with, alongside garbage collection, treatment and disposal, parks and public gardens, and street road lighting. One of the many ways in which cities can reduce bottled water consumption is through the provision of public water fountains.

While drinking water fountains provide still water, and even if there’s a taste for a different type of water (like sparkling water), there are cities where you can find fountains that offer this type of offering, like Rome and Paris.

The Rome case:

Rome has unveiled a kiosk that dispenses free water, both still and sparkling, on Via dei Fori Imperiali outside the Colosseum metro station.

The Paris case:

That’s right: a public fountain that serves up sparkling water. France might be known for its bottled water — take Evian from the Alps, or a bottle of bubbly Perrier. But in Paris, the mayor is pushing people to give up the bottles in favor of tap water from the city supply. One way the city is trying to do so is to make its water more appealing.

Dr. Andrew Biro has written about how individuals may develop a taste for specific types of water (sparkling or “gourmet”) and Dr. Rachel Black has developed the notion that Acqua Minerale di Sangemini (mineral water of Sangemini) gained a place at the table. If this is the type of water that needs to be supplied to entice individuals to switch back from bottled to tap water, then so be it.

Posted in academia, bottled water.

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