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Office of Sustainability is thinking sustainably in UA’s next beverage contract

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Mike Mozart (CC BY 2.0) | The Daily Wildcat

The Coca-Cola Company has an eight year pouring rights deal with the UA. Those rights expire this year.

Coca-Cola’s ten-year beverage agreement with the University of Arizona is up for renewal, and the Office of Sustainability wants future agreements to consider sustainability on campus.

In 2008, the UA signed a ten-year agreement with Coca-Cola to make Coke the sole provider of all soft-drinks on campus. The deal also included other incentives for both sides. Coke agreed to fund several student programs, and the UA allowed Coke to create marketing programs on campus, per a UA News press release

With this contract up for renewal, the Office of Sustainability wants to make sustainability an important part of future contracts with any beverage company. In order to do that, the Office of Sustainability is looking to include questions in the UA’s request for proposal. 

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A request for proposal, or RFP, is a document where a purchaser advises a potential supplier on many of the details of a potential agreement. 

“How do you propose to support sustainability on campus? How would you propose to help deal with waste issues on campus related to your products? How would you propose to help deal with the energy use related to the equipment you put on our campus?” said Ben Champion, director of the Office of Sustainability, about some of the language that he wants included in the RFP.

“I pulled bits and pieces from different examples I saw and also thought about what we are working with in terms of sustainability on campus," Champion said, explaining his process. "I tried to put together a reasonable set of things and phrase them in terms of questions."

The Office of Sustainability supports many programs to promote a sustainable UA campus. According to the Office of Sustainability’s website, the office "collaborates with partners across the University of Arizona and throughout the community to coordinate environmental sustainability initiatives and communication.”

The contract is not up yet, so the RFP is still in progress. 

“Currently, it is just in the drafting process,” Champion said.

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Why does the UA need a beverage contract? 

“Most universities have a pouring rights contract,” Champion said. “This is where we give a company sole rights to sell its product on our campus, to the exclusion of products owned by other companies, in exchange for a series of many different things.”

A pouring rights contract can provide vital funding for UA programs. A UA News press release reported that Coke directly funded multiple student programs in the UA’s Center for Student Involvement & Leadership.

The Office of Sustainability hopes that the answers to its sustainability questions will be a factor in deciding the terms of the next pouring rights contract. Since the products provided in the pouring rights contract could be a large producer of waste, the Office of Sustainability plans to include the question of how a company might reduce that waste, according to Champion.


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