U.S. Town Implements Bottled Water Ban

Mon, 2013-01-07 14:21

If you read our earlier post, "College Campuses Ban Bottled Water," then you're aware of the growing trend hitting communities across the country. Several colleges and universities have limited the sale and use of single-serving plastics, namely plastic water bottles. More recent reports indicate that the same ban evident on the college scene has now been implemented in Concord, Massachusetts. With this announcement, Concord becomes the first U.S. city to limit the sale and use of plastic water bottles.

How Will It Work?

water bottles cancel signA result of a three-year effort by local activists and an effective Ban the Bottle campaign, the new bylaw will make it illegal to sell non-sparkling, unflavored liquids in single-serving polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles of one liter or less. With the exception of emergencies, a first offense will garner a warning, the second infraction incurs a $25 fine, and the third transgression earns a $50 fine. Concord’s Division of Health will be in charge of enforcing the ban during its infancy.

Why This Is Important

According to Ban the Bottle, it takes 17 million barrels of oil a year to produce single-serve plastic bottles, which is enough fuel to power 1.3 million cars a year. In 2010, the EPA estimated that the U.S. generated 31 million tons of non-biodegradable plastic waste, underlining the significant reduction in the nation’s petroleum footprint that could take place with more concerted efforts to reduce plastic use. Moreover, initiatives against bottled water are underlining the significant impact that bottled water companies have on local aquifers. In many cases, large companies are draining water tables and undermining tax payer-funded infrastructure in order to sell back subsidized water for a profit. Ban the Bottle also cites health issues with plastic bottles, noting that the chemical antimony, found in bottles, has been known to cause dizziness and depression in low doses and, in higher doses, vomiting, anxiety, and death.

Looking Forward

Critics of the ban question the utility of the ban, citing the ability for Concord residents to travel to neighboring cities to purchase single-use bottles, or even businesses selling 20oz bottles instead as a loophole around the ban on bottles 1L or less. Nonetheless, the efforts made toward more responsible use of plastics will likely inspire other cities across the U.S., some of which have already placed bans on plastic bags. While the impact and result of this ban remains to be seen, it is encouraging that efforts are being made at the community level to reduce the environmental impact of bottled plastic.

Check back with us soon for our coverage on the plastic bag ban!

By Peter J. Bock

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