The Minnesota Daily reported Wednesday that the University of Minnesota is unlikely to ban the sale of plastic water bottles. Given the size of the University, the number of plastic water bottles used on campus, and a binding contract with Coca-Cola, the University is not willing to commit to a full-on ban right now. However, this should not stop the University from looking into a way to ban the sale of plastic bottles in the future.
The University has traditionally been a leader among large campuses when it comes to reducing its environmental footprint. Plastic water bottles have obvious detrimental environmental effects; they contribute a significant amount of avoidable waste.
Environmental effects aside, another good reason for the ban is for the health of students. Chemicals from the plastic itself can seep into the water and be absorbed by the body.
For example, Bisphenol A, better known as BPA, is in many plastic water bottles. Last year, Canada declared BPA to be a toxic substance; the chemical acts like a hormone once absorbed. It can cause developmental problems and has been shown to affect the nervous system and immune system in animal testing.
While the UniversityâÄôs Coca-Cola contract nets the University a bit of money, its language prevents a water-bottle ban. But the University should not let itself be handcuffed by a major corporation. Coca-Cola is paying the University to sell its products and only its products, but student and environmental health should come before big corporate contracts.