The university sells $2.7 million worth of bottled water each year, and is one of the first in the nation to offer this high tech thirst quenching technology.
“One of the most needless forms of waste that we have comes from non-reusable disposable plastic water bottles,” Peter Buckland, a PhD candidate at Penn State who helped spearhead the initiative to get the filling stations on campus, said.
Buckland said only half of the bottles sold at PSU each year are recycled, ha labeled that as an environmental cost.
For folks on campus there is also an economic benefit when they use one of the four filling stations on campus.
“The cost of bottled per person right from a vending machine at Penn State is a buck fifty a bottle compared to less than one cent out of that for a comparable amount,” Buckland said.
Because Penn State is leading the pack with this technology, water fountain companies are eager to get their model on campus.
“They're in prototype stage so we haven't paid for any of the one's we've installed and in some cases the installation has come for free,” Lydia Vandenburgh, Campus Sustainability Office, said.
The school is monitoring one potential draw back.
“A person drinks from a water bottle, and then they take it over to the station, and if they touch the opening up to where the water's coming out that means their germs are getting on the station,” Vandenburgh said.
With several models on campus, the school can pick the safest one as it moves forward. As for when this technology could be in more campus locations, Vandenburgh said that decision will be made this summer after looking at bacteria numbers for each machine and location.