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 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. 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. Municipalities have also banned bottled water from their facilities, such as the city of San Francisco, California.
Bundanoon, New South Wales, Australia
In 2009, the New South Wales town of Bundanoon voted to become the first town in the world to outlaw bottled water. 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, prohibiting the selling or dispensing of bottled water within the town precinct.
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.
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.
Concord, Massachusetts, United States
Legislation banning the sale of single-serving plastic water bottles passed in Concord, Massachusetts on April 26, 2012 with the law taking effect on January 1, 2013. Two previous failed attempts to ban bottled water before the April 2012 passing of legislation.
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 (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 1 liter in volume may not be sold in vending machines. Bottled water less than 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.
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.
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.”
Some businesses oppose the ban, saying it restricts of freedom of choice and will simply drive bottled water sales out of town.
Inspiration for other bans
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. Among those opposing the ban in both communities was the supermarket chain Stop & Shop. Framingham also has a Poland Spring bottling plant, and its owner Nestlé Waters North America opposed the ban as well.
Many Canadian municipalities have passed bans on municipal properties including: Ajax; Burlington, 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.
In 2011, New Haven passed a municipal spending ban including bulk bottled water dispensers.
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.
In 2016, the state of Sikkim restricted the usage of plastic water bottles (in government functions and meetings) and styrofoam products. In 2015, the state of Bihar has banned the usage of plastic water bottles in governmental meetings. In 2016, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has requested various governmental departments to avoid the usage of plastic bottles to provide drinking water during governmental meetings etc., and instead, to make arrangements for providing drinking water that do not result in the generation of plastic waste.
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