Could your bottle of water soon be illegal? If you live in Bundanoon, Australia it already is. And if you live in Concord, Massachusetts, it might be soon.
Last year, Bundy (as the local Aussies refer to it) became the first town in the world to ban bottled water. The proposal became an issue the whole town rallied around as this article from Treehugger explains. Out of 400 people who voted on the measure, only two voted against the ban--one of whom was from the bottled water industry. The ban is similar to ones in Los Angeles and San Francisco that no longer make plastic bags available in most grocery stores. With the same environmental concerns in mind, the town of Westport also banned the use of plastic bags in 2008 at all retail stores. Whether it's bags or bottles, many towns across the globe are looking to eliminate plastic as much as possible.
Bundy inspired the residents of Concord to propose their own ban, which caused a lot of controversy a year ago when it was introduced. The Concord ban was given renewed life recently when the residents of Bundy wrote an open letter to Concord encouraging them to keep pursuing the ban as the blog Nileguide explains in this article. However, after receiving the letter, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley rejected the ban saying it is outside the attorney general’s authority. Residents of the town are vowing to continue with the ban and are rethinking their strategy.
Whatever new tactic the residents of Concord decide on, the ban is facing an uphill battle. There are a couple major differences between Bundy and Concord that made it much easier for the Bundy ban to be successful. Most important of which is that the residents of Bundy gave up bottled water of their own accord in order to reduce plastic waste. Concord is trying to write legislation. Nileguide reports that members of the bottled water industry were already threatening to sue if the ban goes through.
While the Concord ban may ultimately prove unsuccessful, there has been a backlash in the bottled water industry. Sales of bottled water dropped in 2009 for the second year. Members of the bottled water industry blame the dip in the recession while environmental activists are quick to take credit for putting a dent in the industry by raising awareness of the waste involved in producing bottled water. It could be a little of both, but as the previously linked to MSNBC article points out, many restaurants now only offer tap water and residents are rejecting proposals from corporations to extract bottled water in their towns.
Even if the bottled water industry dismisses environmentalists’ claims that they are responsible for a drop in sales, many companies have already made changes to decrease the production of plastic. Nestle, the world’s biggest water bottler, is now producing bottles that use 25 percent less plastic. And according to this article from Environmental Leader, Green Planet has created a water bottle that is 100 percent plant based and carbon neutral. Like it or not, the bottled water industry is going through some major changes.
Even if passed, will these bans ultimately be successful in reducing plastic waste? A recent study found that the energy required to bottle water exceeds the energy used to produce tap water by up to 2,000 times. If nothing else, maybe these bans can educate the public about the waste caused by bottled water, and change a couple habits. What do you think? Are you ready to quit the bottle?
Image courtesy of Treehugger.com.