Society

San Francisco Becomes First State In The Country To Ban Plastic Bottled Water On Public Properties

| by Khier Casino

San Francisco became the first city in the country on Tuesday to implement a strict ban on bottled water sold at events held on public spaces.

The proposed legislation from Board of Supervisors President David Chu was nine months in the making, and faced obstacles from the city’s drinking water infrastructure to impacts on events like the Folsom Street Fair or nonprofit events that rely on sales of plastic water bottles for revenue, the San Francisco Examiner reported.

Companies, like the American Beverage Association (ABA), that make money from bottled water are not too happy.

The ban eliminates 21 ounce or less plastic bottled water on city properties for the next four years, both indoor or outdoor, impacting vendors, food trucks, street fairs selling beverages on city streets, and venues such as The City’s convention facility, Moscone Center. Waivers are also encouraged to increase the number of water refilling stations.

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“It was not long ago that our world wasn’t addicted to plastic water bottles,” Chiu said. “It wasn’t until the 1990s that the now $60 billion plastic bottle water industry experienced an enormous growth based on massive marketing and distribution campaigns.”

The bottled water ban of San Francisco follows similar laws elsewhere, like in Concord, Mass., where sales of single-served bottled water have been outlawed, The Huffington Post reports.

“This is legislation that takes a much more targeted approach to reducing plastic bottle waste,” Chiu said. Violators would be fined up to $1,000.

The Board of Supervisors voted 11-0 in favor of the legislation. Recology San Francisco collects 10-15 million single use plastic water bottles a year, Chiu said.

“[It is] another step forward on our zero-waste goal,” Joshua Arce, chair of the Environment Commission, said about the ban. With a diversion rate of 80 percent, The City wants zero waste going to its landfill by 2020, according to the Examiner. Past efforts included the ban of plastic bags and Syrofoams containers. “We had big public events for decades without plastic bottles and we'll do fine without them again.”

The ABA, which represents companies like Coca-Cola and the Pepsi Cola Company, said in a statement, obtained by the Examiner, that the ban was “nothing more than a solution in search of a problem. This is a misguided attempt by city supervisors to decrease waste in a city of avid recyclers.”

According to Chiu, future restrictions may follow.

“If we can do this on public property and folks understand that this is absolutely doable then we can look at next steps,” he said.