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San Francisco passes new strict bottled water ban

Looks like bottled water and plastic bags may soon be viewed the same way in San Francisco - as banned plastic packaging. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has approved a measure that would ban the sale of the bottled water at events held on city property. Specifically, the measure would ban the sale or distribution of bottled water in plastic bottles of 21 fluid ounces or less at parks, concerts, large public events and mobile food trucks.

Looks like bottled water and plastic bags may soon be viewed the same way in San Francisco - as banned plastic packaging. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has approved a measure that would ban the sale of the bottled water at events held on city property. Specifically, the measure would ban the sale or distribution of bottled water in plastic bottles of 21 fluid ounces or less at parks, concerts, large public events and mobile food trucks.

The ordinance, which was approved unanimously, looks to expand tap access in city parks and require the installation of hydration stations or water hook-ups where there is a capital project in a popular park or plaza. It must be approved by the board one more time before it is sent to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. 

"Every 27 hours, Americans consume enough bottled water to circle the entire equator with plastic bottles stacked end to end. We have to do better," said David Chiu, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. "This ordinance will not only reduce our bottled water waste, it will also put our city's resources in the right place-investing in residents' access to pristine Hetch Hetchy water."

The measure affects all city parks, even those adjacent to Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). The Think Outside the Bottle, a campaign run by the Corporate Accountability International, says it has been working closely with GGNRA and parks across the country to help them take steps toward going bottled water free. In 2012, Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks made the move, clearing the way for smaller parks like GGNRA to follow suit.

"We applaud Supervisor Chiu and San Francisco's leadership in the movement to think outside the bottle," said Erin Diaz, campaign director of Think Outside the Bottle at Corporate Accountability International. "By taking this step, the city continues to be a pioneer, paving the way for cities, states and national parks across the country to follow suit and buck the bottle. Not only does this measure eliminate wasteful spending on such an eco-unfriendly product, but it also opens doors to increased investment in the most essential of municipal services-water."  

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) expressed its outrage over the bill. [Ed. note: Last year, PlasticsToday talked with both the Corporate Accountability International and IBWA about their individual positions on bottled water.]  

"The IBWA opposes this bill and supports the right of San Franciscans to choose clean, safe, healthy, refreshing, reliable and zero-calorie bottled water when making their beverage decisions. Efforts to eliminate access to bottled water on San Francisco city or county property will force people to choose less healthy drink options, which have more packaging, more additives (e.g., sugar, caffeine), and greater environmental impacts than bottled water. Moreover, this legislation would mean that there would be no bottled water available on city or county property for immune compromised people or during emergency situations when tap water is compromised," the organization said in a statement. 

— Heather Caliendo  

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