Published: December 3, 2015

    San Francisco Bans Sale of Bottled Water

    The waste problem created by the over-consumption of plastic-based goods is daunting. While most plastic products like bottled water are recyclable, most of these products never find their way to a recycling plant. Those that do waste precious energy and resources in order to be converted back into raw materials. The World Counts estimates that over 8,700,000 tons of plastic waste has been added to the world’s oceans in this calendar year alone.

    One of the largest contributors to plastic waste is the omnipresence of bottled water. The bottled water industry is booming – national giants like Nestle, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola Co. made over 110 billion dollars last year purely from bottled water sales, Salon reports. The bottled water industry thrives off of marketing the existence of a commodity that has far better and eco-friendly alternatives. These large companies have spent billions of dollars on marketing campaigns in an attempt to convince consumers that water from the tap, even when properly filtered, is dangerous.

    In the slow pushback against mega-corporations like these, environmentally conscious legislators have fought an uphill battle to pass effective laws and regulations in an effort to reduce plastic waste. San Francisco, leading the charge, has become the first city in the United States to pass an effective ban on the sale of plastic single-serving bottled water. Over a four-year period, San Francisco will completely phase out the sale of plastic water bottles that contain 21 ounces of less of bottled water. Public spaces can apply for a waiver only if no alternative source of water is available in the area.

    Ultimately, San Francisco has a lofty goal of zero waste by 2020. The Chairman of the Commission on the Environment in San Francisco, Joshua Arce, is confident that the new legislation is “another step forward in our zero waste goal,” as reported in Women of Green. The city has already banned plastic bags in a concerted effort to reduce the amount of waste ending up in its landfills.

    In order to make the ban as effective as possible the penalties and fines for disobeying the ordinance are severe. Those caught selling plastic bottled water in San Francisco’s public spaces could be fined up to $1000 per violation. The gradual disappearance of plastic bottled water in San Francisco will hopefully be met with more eco-friendly alternatives.

    Unsurprisingly, the American Beverage Association (consisting of bottled water giants PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Co. among others) released a statement publicly decrying the ban, stating that it is “a misguided attempt by city supervisors to decrease waste in a city of avid recyclers.” Even in the face of overwhelming environmental waste these companies continue to take whatever stance will best fill out their pocketbook.

    Reducing plastic waste is a key step to creating a sustainable place for our children and future generations. Do your part by cutting down on plastic water bottle consumption. Toting a reusable, washable sports bottle is a great way to stay hydrated on the go. And installing a whole house filtration system or one of Pelican’s counter or under counter drinking filters means you can drink tap water without a worry, as the filter makes it fresher and cleaner. When we all work together we can drastically curb the amount of plastic waste in our ecosystems.