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 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.[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.[2] Municipalities have also banned bottled water from their facilities, such as the city of San Francisco, California.[3]

Bundanoon, New South Wales, Australia[edit]

In 2009, the New South Wales town of Bundanoon voted to become the first town in the world to outlaw bottled water.[4] 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.[5][6] prohibiting the selling or dispensing of bottled water within the town precinct.[7]

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. Bundanoon's bold stand against bottled water's damaging effects on the environment and on communities has thrust it into a global spotlight. Bundanoon has caught the attention of many other cities around the world who soon could have similar policies.[6][8]

The decision to ban bottled water came partly from opposition to the proposed bottling plant, and partly from opposition to the environmental and health impacts. There is skepticism that singling out bottled water is necessarily the best option, as there is a worry that soft drinks will be purchased more frequently in place of bottled water because of the convenience the disposable bottle offers.[6]

Concord, Massachusetts, United States[edit]

Legislation banning the sale of single-serving plastic water bottles passed in Concord, Massachusetts on April 26 2012[9] with the law taking effect on January 1, 2013. Two previous failed attempts to ban bottled water before the April 2012 passing of legislation.[10]

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.[11]

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.[11]


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.”[12]

Some businesses oppose the ban, saying it restricts of freedom of choice and will simply drive bottled water sales out of town.[13]

Inspiration for other bans[edit]

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.[14] Among those opposing the ban in both communities was the supermarket chain, Stop & Shop.[15] Framingham also has a Poland Spring bottling plant, and its owner Nestlé Waters North America opposed the ban as well.[14]

Municipal Bans[edit]

Many Canadian municipalities have passed bans on municipal properties including: Ajax; Burlington, Cornwall, London, Newmarket, Niagara Falls, Oakville, Oshawa, Peterborough, St. Catherines, Windsor, Waterloo, Nelson, Victoria, Vancouver. These were followed in December of 2008, by Toronto, Canada's most populous city. The Toronto City Council approved a water bottle ban to take effect in January of 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.[16]

At the Town Meeting of May, 2015, Brookline, Massachusetts will be considering a municipal ban modeled on San Francisco's.


  1. ^ "Concord, Mass., the first US city to ban sale of plastic water bottles - U.S. News". Retrieved 2013-07-03. 
  2. ^ "Map of Campaigns". Ban The Bottle. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "San Francisco bans sale of plastic water bottles on city property". MSNBC. 2014-03-13. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Banning the bottle puts Bundy on the map
  5. ^ Foley, Meraiah (July 16, 2009). "Small Australian Town Stands Up for the Tap". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Keen, Judy (October 17, 2007). "Bottled water leaves some cities with a bad taste". USA Today. Retrieved April 1, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Concord approves bottle ban by narrow vote - Boston News, New England News, WHDH-TV 7NEWS WHDH.COM". Retrieved 2013-07-03. 
  10. ^ "Massachusetts Town Bans Plastic Water Bottles |". 2013-01-04. Retrieved 2013-07-03. 
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^ "Concord, Massachusetts Becomes First American City to Ban Plastic Water Bottles -". September 5, 2012. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  13. ^ AP / January 1, 2013 (2013-01-01). "Mass. town's plastic bottle ban in effect". Retrieved 2013-07-03. 
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ Brock, Parker (April 28, 2013). "Arlington Town Meeting defeats bottle ban, softens leaf blower restrictions". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  16. ^ "Toronto's Water Bottle Ban". City of Toronto. Retrieved 28 March 2015.