BBC Accused of Wasting Public Money – on Bottled Water


A recent headline caught my attention: “BBC accused of wasting £406,000 of public money a year on bottled water.” Apparently, the UK news agency is having trouble proving the legitimacy of its (unsustainable) bottled water consumption and spending.

According to a report by the Guardian, a recent freedom of information request (by the Guardian to the BBC) was both revealing and disconcerting: the news broadcaster spends £406,000 each year on water for its water coolers, plus an unknown sum on bottled water for BBC hospitality events and internal staff meetings exceeding two hours in duration. The BBC obtains these funds from public funding.

A liter of tap water creates approximately 0.0003 kilograms of CO2, while a liter of bottled water creates approximately 0.180 (average) of CO2.

In response to the Guardian report, the BBC is reviewing its contractual commitments and assessing the “health issues” of using tap water instead of bottled water. (The BBC, and all UK employers, is required by law to provide drinking water for staff in the workplace.)

The report is having quite the environmental, business, and social impact. The responses of several UK-based business and sustainability organizations are telling: the BBC could “save themselves a lot of money, aside from the urgent sustainability issues;” “…. the effect on the environment… is enormous;” and “families are having to cut back on little luxuries and time the BBC did also.”

Sarah Harper is a professional writer based in San Francisco, California. Her interests include sustainability, government policy, and international politics. In her free time, Sarah enjoys toying with the idea of holistic health, overanalysis, and plotting world exploration.

2 responses

  1. Those big bottled water coolers really aren’t the bogeyman, and the bottles are reused many times. Whether or not it’s a good use of public funds is debatable.

  2. And is the water in their buildings really drinkable? I know at my workplace, there are concerns about ancient lead pipes which makes bottled water a necessity until they can get the funding to change out the pipes. And given how much the water here fizzes when you get it out of the drinking fountain, I’d demand bottled water if it wasn’t provided.

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