Bottled water ban takes effect in Concord, Mass

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013 By

Water bottle

The city of Concord, Mass., has instituted a bottled water ban, the first U.S. city to do so. Photo Credit: Dsw4/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY

The city of Concord, Mass., passed a bottled water ban last year, which outlawed sale of single-servings of bottled water. It’s the first city in the United States to do so, though not the first ban on bottled water per so, as the town wants to cut down on Dasani bottles in landfills.

Bottled water ban next item after plastic bag ban

There was some hullabaloo in the last couple years over plastic bag bans, where cities banned plastic grocery bags. Environmentalists cheered it, others decried it. After all, it’s mandating the manner in which one can transport their groceries and that’s serious micromanagement.

Or is it? What many forget is those bags go in the trash and then sit in landfills. Cities have to pay, with tax money, people to transport and deal with trash. A few cloth grocery bags can transport groceries in perpetuity.

Perhaps a companion effort is a small movement towards bottle water bans. The first city to institute a bottled water ban is the city of Concord, Mass., according to the Daily Mail, which voted earlier this year to prohibit sales of single-serving bottled water 1 liter in size or smaller.

Three year effort

After the Concord bottled water ban passed, according to CBS Boston, state officials mulled a state-wide ban, but it hasn’t gone anywhere yet. The ban in Concord, according to NBC News, was the culmination of a three-year effort to ban bottled water. Local businesses aren’t happy and stress the ban hurts their sales and will drive bottled water sales elsewhere.

Concord, Mass., isn’t the first; the city of Bundanoon, Australia, banned bottled water in 2009. The city of Toronto, Canada, banned bottled water from city property, according to the Toronto Sun, after the city of London, Ontario, banned bottled water in 2008, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

As of March 2012, according to Bloomberg, more than 90 college campuses in the United States had banned or restricted bottled water sales, encouraging students to use refillable containers, such as steel bottles, instead.

Nitpicking or serving greater good

The more libertarian-minded among us might opine that a bottled water ban restricts freedom of trade and choice. It’s an innocuous plastic bottle of water; who cares?

It isn’t that simple. As of 2005, according to an MSNBC article from that year, about 12 percent of bottled water bottles were being recycled and roughly 40 million bottles per day, were going into the trash. According to the Mother Nature Network, that translates to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year.

What isn’t hauled away by trash services – public utilities, remember, are paid for with taxes – winds up on roadsides or in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. We are free to choose, but we’re not free to opt out of paying for it; everyone, therefore, is saddled with the cost of dealing with waste. Thus far, no city has found a way to make only those who opt to buy bottled water pay for dealing with it.

That’s also coupled with the fact that a lot of bottled water is filtered municipal water. In other words, filtered tap. Brita filters are cheap and a steel bottle can last a lifetime.

Sources

Daily Mail

CBS Boston

NBC News

Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-07/ivy-colleges-shunning-bottled-water-jab-at-22-billion-industry.html

Toronto Sun: http://www.torontosun.com/2012/10/22/toronto-mayor-rob-ford-vows-to-nix-water-bottle-ban

CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2008/08/20/toronto-bottledwater.html

MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5279230/ns/us_news-environment/t/plastic-bottles-pile-mountains-waste/#.UOSOUKBVPcs

MNN: http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/5-reasons-not-to-drink-bottled-water

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