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Bottled water ban

The use of plastics continues to rise in our daily lives due to its convenience and cheap price. But the cost that is not obvious to many is the environmental and health impacts they are leaving behind.[1]

Plastics are made from fossil fuels. The use of these leaves a large ecological footprint on the environment, not to mention that this plastics do not break down easily, if at all.[2]

The overuse of plastics results in a dumping of plastics into our oceans at a rate of 8 million tons per year.[3] The pilling up of plastics around the world continues to build up and now will facing issues like the Great Pacific garbage patch. Scientists now have estimated that at the rate will continue to dump plastics into our oceans, by 2050 there will have more plastic than fish in our oceans.[4]

Additional to environmental impacts, plastics are known to leave behind chemicals detrimental to human health such as the neurotoxin Bisphenol A (also known as BPA).[5] Other chemicals in plastics have even been linked to causing cancer.[6]

For these reasons some governments are interested in banning the use of single-use plastic water bottles in their regions to lower these impacts on the environment and promote sustainability within their boundaries.

Bottled water bans have been proposed and enacted in several municipalities and campuses around the world, over such concerns as resource wastage, transportation emissions, plastic litter, and damage to affected aquifers.

The small town of Bundanoon, New South Wales (Australia) enacted such a ban in 2009 and believes it was the first government to do so anywhere.[7] The University of Vermont (UVM) in Burlington became the first public college to enact such a ban. As of late 2016, 82 high schools, colleges and universities across the world have implemented bottled water bans on their campuses.[8] Municipalities have also banned bottled water from their facilities, such as the city of San Francisco, California.[9]

Contents

Bundanoon, New South Wales, AustraliaEdit

In 2009, the New South Wales town of Bundanoon voted to become the first town in the world to outlaw bottled water.[10] Its citizens voluntarily chose to ban bottled water in response to a bottling company's desire to sell water from the town's local aquifer,[11][12] prohibiting the selling or dispensing of bottled water within the town precinct.[13]

Bundanoon's six stores have removed bottled water from their stock. The town now offers public drinking fountains and filtered water dispensers where people can fill up reusable water bottles and canteens. The reusable empty bottles are sold in place of full bottles in the local stores. The town's ban received media attention from major news outlets.[12][14]

The decision to ban bottled water was partly due to opposition to the proposed bottling plant, and partly to concern related to the environmental and health impacts.[12]

Concord, Massachusetts, United StatesEdit

Legislation banning the sale of single-serving plastic water bottles passed in Concord, Massachusetts on April 26, 2012[15] with the law taking effect on January 1, 2013. Two previous attempts to ban bottled water in the city had failed.[16]

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, which have the number 1 and/or PETE with the recycling symbol on the bottle are no longer allowed to be sold if they are less than or equal to 1 liter (34 ounces) and contain water which is non-sparkling and non-flavored. The sale of water in bottles made of other types of plastic is allowed. Bottles of flavored water, regardless of size, may be sold. The sale of cases of small (<1 liter) bottles of water is prohibited. Bottled water less than or equal to 1 liter in volume may not be sold in vending machines. Bottled water less than or equal to 1 liter in volume may not be sold at civic events including but not limited to sports events, road races, festivals, theater performances and catered events. Water may be offered for free to patrons in any form.[17]

In January 2013 the Health Division of the Town Manager’s Office of the Town of Concord began inspections of retail stores, restaurants, and other venues that sell bottled beverages. The Health Division is tasked with ensuring compliance with the bylaw against bottled water sales under 1 liter. If bottled water less than 1 liter is being sold, a written warning is issued. Within one week a re-inspection will occur; if this is failed, a $25 fine is issued as a non-criminal citation. On the third and subsequent inspections, a non-criminal citation with a fine of $50 is issued if bottled water continues to be sold in violation of the bylaw.[17]

ControversyEdit

There is controversy over this act. The International Bottled Water Association issued a press release stating that: “This ban deprives residents of the option to choose their choice of beverage and visitors, who come to this birthplace of American independence, a basic freedom gifted to them by the actions in this town more than 200 years ago. It will also deprive the town of needed tax revenue and harm local businesses that rely on bottled water sales.”[18] The IBWA reinforced this statement in response to the proposed ban on bottled water in the city of San Francisco. It added that restricting access to bottled water will lead consumers to opt for unhealthier bottled options that may involve, “more packaging, more additives (e.g., sugar, caffeine), and greater environmental impacts than bottled water.”[19]

Some businesses oppose the ban, saying it restricts freedom of choice and will simply drive bottled water sales out of town.[20]

Alternatives to plastic bottlesEdit

Some alternatives to plastic bottles are already available and many more are to be designed. For example, a simple solution to this is to use a reusable bottle and fill it up at stations, water fountains, or food establishments.[21]

Additionally, other products exist that provide the single use water alternative in a container with a less ecological impact. An example of this is "Boxed Water" which is sold in a single use cardboard box, which is more readily recyclable.[22]

The future looks promising as some signs of better alternatives to plastics are emerging. A group of students has managed to created a biodegradable plastic bottle from algae and other natural materials. The implementation and use of a product like this could take a big cut in the use of plastics.[23]

Inspiration for other bansEdit

Other towns near Concord have explored similar bans. Some residents of the Town of Arlington brought one to its Spring Town Meeting of 2013, but it was defeated in a voice vote. A high-school student proposed a ban by-law at the Fall 2014 Town Meeting in Framingham, where it was defeated by a vote of 60 to 40.[24] Among those opposing the ban in both communities was the supermarket chain Stop & Shop.[25] Framingham also has a Poland Spring bottling plant, and its owner Nestlé Waters North America opposed the ban as well.[24]

Municipal bansEdit

CanadaEdit

Many Canadian municipalities have passed bans on municipal properties including: Ajax; Burlington,[26] Cornwall, London, Newmarket, Niagara Falls, Oakville, Oshawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Windsor, Waterloo, Nelson, Victoria, Vancouver. These were followed in December 2008, by Toronto, Canada's most populous city. The Toronto City Council approved a water bottle ban to take effect in January 2012. The ban, which affects most of Toronto's parks and park facilities, prohibits the sale and distribution of water bottles in all Civic Centres, City facilities and parks.[27]

United StatesEdit

In 2011, New Haven passed a municipal spending ban including bulk bottled water dispensers.[28]

At the Town Meeting of May, 2015, Brookline, Massachusetts passed a by-law prohibiting the spending of Town funds on water in single-use plastic bottles in offices. It will be considering further restrictions based on San Francisco's ordinance. The Town also instituted a requirement that restaurants serve tap water on request including take-out orders.[29]

In June 2007, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom released an executive directive to phase out the usage of water bottles in the city.[30] The directive for San Francisco had strict consequences. If a public event that has more than 100 people is caught distributing water bottles, the event sponsors can pay a fine of up to $500.[31] Many city offices who supported the ban complied quickly with the phase out of water bottles except for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who spent about $4,387 on water bottles for three years after the ban was put into effect.[32] San Francisco is one of the largest cities in the country to initiate such a ban yet the city did not offer the people a public policy to allow for access to free water.[33] On March 11, 2014, The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed Ordinance 28-14 [34] which amends its Enivroment Code to execute a ban on the sale of plastic water bottles that contain less than 21 ounces through the City of San Francisco.[35] With only a 23% recycle rate of the 50 billion plastic bottles used in the U.S., it is no surprise that this ban of plastic bottles was widely accepted by city officials of San Francisco and its citizens.[36]

To maintain easy access to water for its citizens, the City of San Francisco plans on implementing a Drink Tap Program which will install outdoor water bottle refilling stations to ensure the public stays hydrated. Many of these stations will be dispersed throughout the city.[37]

IndiaEdit

In 2016, the state of Sikkim restricted the usage of plastic water bottles (in government functions and meetings) and styrofoam products.[38] In 2015, the state of Bihar has banned the usage of plastic water bottles in governmental meetings.[39]

University bansEdit

Despite being the first public university to enact a ban on bottled water in 2013, The University of Vermont has not yet experienced much positive effect from the implemented ban. University professor Rachel Johnson has seen, “total number of bottles on campus increase.” In conjunction with the ban, UVM integrated a number of filtered water stations across campus. However, the consumption of other bottled beverages such as soda and juices has become more prevalent. The university continues its efforts by, “doubling the number of water stations on campus and stocking them with biodegradable cups.”[40]

Contrary to the University of Vermont, overall bottled beverage sales have decreased by more than a third over the past seven years at Washington University in St. Louis. Since eliminating the sales of bottled water on campus, the university has also seen a decrease in soda fountain sales, which leads observers to believe that water is not necessarily being replaced by sugary beverage alternatives. The assistant vice chancellor for sustainability largely attributes the university’s success to its bottled water ban, as well as its accompanying efforts to retrofit old water fountains, add new water stations on campus, and celebrate the student body’s growing interest in sustainability.[41]

ReferencesEdit

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  7. ^ "Concord, Mass., the first US city to ban sale of plastic water bottles - U.S. News". Usnews.nbcnews.com. Retrieved 2013-07-03. 
  8. ^ "Map of Campaigns | Ban the Bottle". www.banthebottle.net. Retrieved 2016-11-16. 
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  10. ^ Banning the bottle puts Bundy on the map
  11. ^ Foley, Meraiah (July 16, 2009). "Small Australian Town Stands Up for the Tap". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ a b c Foley, Meraiah (July 17, 2009). "BUNDANOON JOURNAL; Ban on Bottled Water, Apparently a First, Puts a Small Town on a Big Stage". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ http://www.bundyontap.com.au
  14. ^ "Australian town bans bottled water". The Guardian. 2009-07-09. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-10-09. 
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  16. ^ "Massachusetts Town Bans Plastic Water Bottles | TIME.com". Newsfeed.time.com. 2013-01-04. Retrieved 2013-07-03. 
  17. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-03-25. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 
  18. ^ "Concord, Massachusetts Becomes First American City to Ban Plastic Water Bottles - ICTMN.com". September 5, 2012. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Proposed Bottled Water Ban Not in the Best Interest of San Franciscans | IBWA | Bottled Water". www.bottledwater.org. Retrieved 2016-11-16. 
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  21. ^ "Get rid of plastic water bottles | Food | Green Living". www.greenlivingonline.com. Retrieved 2016-11-15. 
  22. ^ "Boxed Water | Home". www.boxedwaterisbetter.com. Retrieved 2016-11-15. 
  23. ^ "Design Student Invents Genius Biodegradable Alternative to Plastic Water Bottles". nextshark.com. Retrieved 2016-11-15. 
  24. ^ a b Daily News Staff. "Framingham Town Meeting rejects water bottle ban". Metro West Daily News (Oct. 22, 2014). Gatehouse Media, Inc. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  25. ^ Brock, Parker (April 28, 2013). "Arlington Town Meeting defeats bottle ban, softens leaf blower restrictions". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  26. ^ "Say NO to Bottled Water". BurlingtonGreen. 2010. Retrieved May 21, 2017. 
  27. ^ "Toronto's Water Bottle Ban". City of Toronto. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  28. ^ MacMillan, Thomas (Dec 11, 2013). "Bottled Water Is Back". New Haven Independent. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  29. ^ Ishkanian, Ellen (May 29, 2015). "Brookline votes to require restaurants to offer tap water". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  30. ^ Query, Shawn. ""San Fran's Bottled Water Ban"". Environmental Magazine. 
  31. ^ Steinmetz, Kathy (2013-12-18). "San Francisco May Be First Major City to Ban Plastic Water Bottles". time.com. Retrieved 2016-11-15. 
  32. ^ Gollan, Jennifer (2010-10-24). "Bottle Ban? What Ban? Supervisors May Ask: [National Desk]". New York Times – via Proquest. 
  33. ^ "In S.F., it's BYOB". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing Company LLC. 2014-03-06 – via EBSCOhost. 
  34. ^ "Ordinance 28-14" (PDF). sfenviroment.org. Retrieved 2016-11-15. 
  35. ^ http://sfenvironment.org/sites/default/files/policy/sfe_zw_bottled_water_ordinance.pdf
  36. ^ "San Francisco bans sale of plastic water bottles on city property". MSNBC. Retrieved 2016-11-16. 
  37. ^ San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. "How to Comply with the Water Bottle Ban". Retrieved 2016-11-15. 
  38. ^ http://sikenvis.nic.in/ViewGeneralLatestNews.aspx?Id=4964&Year=2016. Retrieved 2 September 2016.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  39. ^ "Bihar bans plastic packaged water bottles". Retrieved 2 September 2016. 
  40. ^ "Plastic water bottle ban leads to unexpected results". Grist. 2015-10-16. Retrieved 2016-11-16. 
  41. ^ "Water bottle ban a success; bottled beverage sales have plummeted | The Source | Washington University in St. Louis". The Source. 2016-04-20. Retrieved 2016-11-16.