NYU Water Bottle Purchasing Policy

Effective Date: January 1, 2020
Approval Date (Office of the President / Office of Sustainability): September 13, 2019
This FAQ dated: September 13, 2019

Policy: NYU funds shall not be used to purchase pre-packaged, still water on campus in NYC.

This applies to any NYU purchase of still water, regardless of:

  • container material (plastic, metal, glass, paper, etc.)
  • container size (single-serve, 5-gallons, etc.)
  • use (offices, events, catering, etc.)
  • method of purchase (i-Buy, P-card, reimbursement, etc.)


  1. Why is this policy needed?
    Before the introduction of this policy, NYU was paying to buy hundreds of thousands of water bottles every year, each used for just a few minutes. It takes 2,000 times the energy to transport packaged drinking water compared to safe and healthy NYC tap water.
  2. Does this policy apply to water bottles I purchase myself (with my own money)?
    No, this policy does not apply to personal purchases (in fact, while NYU makes clean NYC tap water available at its locations, bottled water is also still available for sale on campus). This policy applies only to the spending of NYU funds.
  3. How about other types of disposable water bottles, like recyclable aluminum, glass, or paper?
    These alternatives are of dubious benefit compared to plastic, and do not address the energy and carbon impact of shipping water. This shipping is the source of most of the impact of bottled water, which is why using a plastic or compostable cup to drink tap water is still far less resource intensive than any type of disposable container. Therefore, this policy applies regardless of the material used to make the bottle.
  4. Does this apply to other drinks like sparkling water, mineral water, soda, flavored water, vitamin water, juice, etc.?
    This policy does not apply to those beverages - only to still water.
  5. What about catering?
    The University’s contracted provider will provide water dispensers. Dispensers will be picked up no later than 30 minutes after the end of the event, at no additional charge.
  6. Does this apply to 5-gallon jugs used to dispense water in offices?
    Yes. It is recommended to install a point-of-use water filter for this use; reach out to askfinancelink@nyu.edu with an inquiry and an account representative will contact you to provide additional details regarding the type of units available for assistance.
  7. Does this apply to catered meetings on campus?
    Yes. It is recommended to use refillable bottles or pitchers (see “Tips”).
  8. Does this apply to water bottles purchased on campus for off-campus events?
    Yes. It is recommended to use refillable coolers or other containers (see “Tips”).
  9. Does this apply to water bottles purchased for VIP visitors to campus, or to have onstage at highly publicized events?
    Yes. It is recommended to use refillable bottles or pitchers for this use (see “Tips”).
  10. Does this apply to bottles purchased off-campus for off-campus use?
    While this use case is highly discouraged, whether by direct NYU purchase or through a third-party vendor, it is not prohibited by this policy.
  11. What if someone offers me a water bottle in the course of my doing business off-campus on behalf of NYU?
    We can’t change the world all at once - but you can set an example by bringing your own reusable bottle. Feel free to let others know of NYU’s efforts to reduce waste.


The following recommendations are for WB Mason's i-Buy Catalog Orders.

60 oz clear water pitcher

Search “water pitcher” to find fillable pitchers to serve water at meetings.  

3 gallon water cooler with lid

Search “Rubbermaid water cooler” to find reusable transportable water jugs for use at out-of-office events. Available in various sizes.

bioplastic EcoProducts cup

Search the WB Mason PunchOut for paper and plastic compostable or recyclable cups. Filter your search for "green items" that feature a range of options from brands like Eco-Products, EarthChoice, Green Mountain Coffee, Dixie, and SOLO that are recyclable or BPI certified compostable.

Please note that recyclable plastic and paper cups should be clean and dry before going in the Mixed Recycling bin and compostable products go in the Compost bin, if present, otherwise they go in the Landfill bin.

All catering orders made through NYU’s food service provider, Chartwells, will provide dispensers of water, replacing water bottles. There will be no additional charge for pick up of the dispenser(s) at Chartwells catered events at any location. The water dispensers will be picked up no later than 30 minutes after the end of the catered event.

For catering provided by others, request “no water bottles” and supply a water dispenser, pitchers, and cups as shown above.