Back to Tap
Unitywater is a Queensland-based utility committed to providing high-quality, safe and reliable water and sewerage services that are economically and environmentally sustainable. We invited Chief Executive Officer, George Theo to tell us more about the innovative organisation.
Established in 2010, Unitywater provides essential water supply and sewage treatment services to residents and businesses in the Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast and Noosa regions, under the guidance of CEO George Theo.
Following his appointment as Chief Executive Officer in 2012, George participated in the CEO Challenge, an Australia-wide campaign designed to raise awareness of and prevent the occurrence of domestic and family violence, as part of his dedication to supporting and giving back to the community Unitywater serves.
Alongside his work within the local community, George is also deeply passionate about tackling the global issue of plastic waste on a local scale.
“At Unitywater, we know that everyone is aware of the current crisis facing our environment and communities caused by the growing excess of plastic waste. One of the simplest ways to prevent and reduce the consumption of plastic waste is through behavioural change,” George said.
“Operating in a high-profile tourism destination in Queensland, means we have a responsibility to protect our beautiful beaches and pristine waterways, which extend from Noosa in the north, through the Sunshine Coast, and down to the Pumicestone Passage in the south. The protection of our uniquely Australian environment requires significant investment from a range of organisations. Particularly, our response is to partner with our regional councils in Noosa, Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay to deliver our comprehensive behavioural change campaign known as Back to Tap.”
Unitywater launched Back to Tap as a school education campaign in 2014 to increase awareness of the benefits of tap water, and the impacts of single-use plastic on the environment.
Since then, the campaign has expanded from a small base of community events and reusable water bottle giveaways, to become a comprehensive annual campaign that includes education initiatives, sponsorships, beach and waterway clean ups, installation of water refill stations and giving away re-usable water bottles. George tells us more about how they continue to drive its customers to more sustainable ways of life through this unique initiative.
“Unitywater leverages community and industry partnerships and sponsorships to deliver on the objectives of the campaign. We work closely with local environmental organisations such as Noosa Community Biosphere, to distribute our stainless-steel water bottles and we sponsor big wave surfer Mark Visser, who is a great Back to Tap ambassador.”
Overall, Unitywater’s Back to Tap campaign is creating the necessary momentum needed to change people’s behaviour when it comes to buying singleuse water bottles, as well as understanding the impact plastic has on the region’s marine life. In 2016, Unitywater established the regional Back to Tap Reference Group, which has been instrumental in the installation of fixed water refill stations in public and community areas, as George highlights.
“We are very proud of our partnership with our local Sunshine Coast icon, Australia Zoo, being one of the first organisations to install permanent water refill stations around their grounds.”
To date, Unitywater has provided more than 81,000 reusable water bottles at hundreds of community events. The fleet of Back to Tap vans, which supply chilled free water on tap at these events, has ticked over 64 thousand litres of water, effectively saving more than 106,000 single-use water bottles, as George highlights in his concluding comments.
“At one end of the scale we are supporting large, sustainable plastic-free events such as the Noosa Festival of Surfing and Ocean Crusaders’ Paddle against Plastic. At the other end of the scale, we are working with schools to develop and deliver an education program for our children. Also, we are developing highly creative, quirky social media campaigns and consumer competitions to ensure our messages reach and influence our wider community.”
Ultimately, it is clear that Unitywater remains the trailblazer in this space and is committed to leading the charge to protect the environment from plastic bottles in South-East Queensland.
Contact: Kathy Contoleon
Address: Level 2, 6-10 Maud Street, Maroochydore, Queensland, 4558, Australia
Phone: 1300 086 489