Bottled water ban

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Bottled water bans have been proposed and enacted in several municipalities and campuses around the world, over such concerns as plastic waste, transport costs, and damage to affected aquifers.

The town of Bundanoon, New South Wales (Australia) enacted such a ban in 2009 and believes it was the first government to do so anywhere.[1] The University of Vermont (UVM) in Burlington became the first public college to enact such a ban. Twenty-two private campuses have already implemented bans.

Concord, Massachusetts, United States[edit]

Legislation banning the sale of single-serving plastic water bottles passed in Concord, Massachusetts on April 26 2012[2] with the law taking effect on January 1, 2013.

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 1 liter (34ounces) 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 (<34 oz.) bottles of water is prohibited. Bottled water less than 34 ounces may not be sold in vending machines. Bottled water less than 34 ounces 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, including less than 1 ounce bottles.[3]

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 34 ounces. 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.[3]


Local activists including Jean Hill (84 years old in 2013) pushed to reduced waste and fossil fuel use. Hill led two previous failed attempts to ban bottled water before the April 2012 passing of legislation.[4] The act was approved in April 2012 by town residents in a 403-364 vote.[1]


There is controversy over this act. The IBWA 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.”[5]

Some businesses oppose the ban, saying it restricts of freedom of choice and will simply drive bottled water sales out of town.[6]