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House of Representatives Says Bye-Bye to Traditional Water Bottles

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Location: Washington, DC


House of Representatives says bye-bye to traditional water bottles

Innovative biodegrable bottles, as harmless as the water they contain, to replace conventional plastic containers

In an effort to be even more environmentally friendly in its cafeterias, the House is no longer offering "traditional" bottled water, instead choosing to use bottles that biodegrade in less than three months.

The House's food vendor, Restaurant Associates, is selling water in biodegradable, corn-based bottles as part of the Green the Capitol Initiative.

The move was announced at a Sept. 23 press conference in the Longworth Cafeteria.

The spring water from Virgina-based Grand Springs will be sold in containers made by the Iowa-based company Naturally Iowa. The new product will replace water currently being offered by all other bottlers on the Capitol Campus. Vending machines will not initially be affected by this switch over.

The House sells over 100,000 bottles of water a year. In the past, purchasers of those bottles have been encouraged to recycle them through the House's recycling program, administered by the Architect of the Capitol (AOC).

"While the AOC has done a solid job with its recycling efforts, studies have shown that 8 out of 10 recyclable bottles wind up in landfills, where they sit for over a hundred years," said Perry Plumart, Acting Director of the House's Green the Capitol Initiative. "These compostable bottles can be thrown into the compost stream with all of the House's food waste and other biodegradable containers, ensuring that they will have no negative effect on the environment."

Plumart noted that many visitors and busy staffers carry bottled water out of the cafeterias, where recycling bottles is easy, only to be faced with throwing the containers into conventional "garbage" bins, which results in traditional bottles going into landfills. Even if the new bottles are not "composted" through the House's composting center, but rather simply thrown into the trash, they will biodegrade in landfills in under a year, according to the manufacturer.

Plumart and Restaurant Associates' managers added that staffers should notice no difference in taste with the new water vendor. Congressman Virgil Goode expressed his support for the product in a press release, in which he stated:

"Green Springs bottles quality water, which has an excellent taste," said Goode. He added, "Green Springs is important to the economy of Halifax County, and I hope that the sale of its water by the House will help others to discover the good quality of life that we enjoy in Southside Virginia."

"These bottles are as harmless as the water they contain," said Plumart. "Our consumers can throw them out with their food and their other compostable containers and know that they've done a good thing."

The changeover will not cost the House any forfeiture in commissions from Restaurant Associates' sales. The cost of the water will be $1.60 per bottle, which is $.10 more than a proposed price increase on the traditional bottled water products.


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