San Francisco Proposes Bottled Water Ban
The first city to ban plastic bags has become a pioneer again by considering the prohibition of distributing bottled water on city property. If approved, the legislation, introduced Dec. 17, would phase out the sale and distribution of plastic bottles containing 21 or fewer ounces of water on municipal property starting Oct. 1, 2014.
"It would apply to events, permitted vendors and lessees on San Francisco property, as well as city departments themselves," according to a press release issued on behalf of San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu who introduced the measure.
The ban would apply to events at city-owned locations with access to the city's water supply, which is touted as one of the cleanest and best tasting in the country, according to the bill. Two years after the ban is scheduled to take effect, it would expand to all events held on city property regardless of water access. Participant sporting events, such as races, would be excluded from the ban, as would events whose permits or leases were issued prior to July 1, 2014 (this would include the Giants' AT&T Park after its lease expires in about 50 years, according to the San Francisco Examiner). The bill indicates penalties would range from $500 to $1,000 depending on the number of violations.
“The environmental impact of our yearly consumption of billions of plastic water bottles is enormous,” Chiu said in a statement. “Given that San Franciscans can access clean and inexpensive Hetch Hetchy [Reservoir in Yosemite National Park] water out of our taps, we need to wean ourselves off our recent addiction to plastic water bottles. I hope San Francisco can again lead the way, by drinking water without harming the environment or the bottom line.”
The legislation also prohibits the city from using its funds to purchase bottled water, and encourages an expansion in tap-water access in public places in the coming years.
The city estimates two million plastic water bottles end up in its landfills each year, according to the legislation.
“We applaud Board of Supervisors' President Chiu and San Francisco’s leadership in the movement to think outside the bottle,” Erin Diaz, director of the Think Outside the Bottle Campaign said in a statement. “By taking this step, the city continues to be a pioneer, paving the way for cities across the country to follow suit and buck the bottle. Not only does this measure eliminate wasteful spending on such an eco-unfriendly product, it is also a resounding endorsement of the tap and ensures people’s access in public spaces to the most essential of municipal services—tap water.”
The American Beverage Association criticized the proposal.
“The consumer should have a choice on how they drink their water,” said Kate Krebs, a spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association, said, according to the San Francisco examiner, noting consumers are recycling the plastic.
The city expects the first public hearing for this bill to take place by early-February. If enacted, San Francisco would follow Concord, Mass., which, earlier this year, was the first American city to ban bottled water, as well as college campuses and national parks that also have instituted a ban, according to TIME.