The next big travel accessory could be a reusable water bottle.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is installing about 52 free water bottle refilling stations over the next month throughout the concourses and terminals. It’s a way to address two issues: The airport security liquids ban that forces travelers to dump beverages before passing through a checkpoint and the environmental issue of disposable plastic water bottles thrown in the trash daily.
The new-fangled fountains at the world’s busiest airport are part of an emerging trend across the country. Airports in San Francisco and Chicago already have bottle refilling stations. The dispensers allow for easier filling than tilting a bottle to catch dribbles from a water fountain or attempting to fill it with short spurts at bathroom motion-sensor sinks.
“I really don’t want to buy a plastic bottle for a lot of reasons,” said traveler Amy Lapp, who passed through Hartsfield-Jackson this week and filled up her reusable bottle at one of the new refilling stations. “It’s a lot of waste.”
There’s no telling yet how refilling stations could affect bottled water sales for Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co., maker of Dasani, Vitaminwater and other brands of bottled water.
“We believe people should have a choice when it comes to drinking water,” said Coca-Cola spokeswoman Susan Stribling in a written statement, adding that Dasani comes in PlantBottles, which are partially made from plants.
The Oasis International refilling stations at the Atlanta airport will dispense plain old tap water. They’re being installed at existing drinking fountain locations as part of a $7,350 retrofit with copper surfaces which manufacturer Hussey Copper says are antimicrobial. Emory University researchers will test the fountains for bacteria.
Investor Lynn Tilton, who owns Hussey and Oasis, saw the world’s busiest airport as a place to “showcase” the new fountains and bottle refillers.
The airport has already piloted two water bottle refill stations for about a year on Concourses A and T. New stations across the airport will have a touchless design.