San Francisco is one step closer to banning plastic water bottles

The city takes on a $60 billion industry

By Lindsay Abrams
March 5, 2014 11:11PM (UTC)
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San Francisco has been making moves to become the first major U.S. city to rid itself of the scourge of plastic water bottles, and it looks like they may actually pull it off. On Tuesday, the city's Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance to ban their sale at events held on public property. SFGate reports:

The ordinance, approved unanimously, would prohibit the sale of drinking water in single-use bottles 21 ounces or less on city property, starting on Oct. 1 for indoor events and in 2016 for those held outdoors. The ban exempts footraces and other athletic events and gives food trucks and large nonprofits, such as the annual Gay Pride Parade, until 2018 to comply. It also allows some groups to apply for waivers and encourages the city to increase the number of water refilling stations in public spaces.

...[Supervisor David] Chiu noted that it wasn't until the 1990s that there was a plastic water bottle industry, which is now a $60 billion a year business. He said one goal of the legislation is to get people thinking about the waste, much like the city's plastic bag ban, which has dramatically increased the number of consumers who use reusable bags.

"I want to remind people that not long ago, our world was not addicted to plastic water bottles," he said. "Before (the 1990s), for centuries, everybody managed to stay hydrated."

Helped along by single-use bottles, plastic now accounts for 13 percent of the garbage generated in the U.S., according to EPA estimates, and only about 13 percent of plastics are recycled nationwide. San Francisco is already way ahead of the curve, recycling and composting its garbage at twice the national rate. But it's recognized that the best way to reduce its impact is to attack the problem directly.


The ordinance must be approved by the board one more time; after that, it will be sent to Mayor Ed Lee for consideration.

Lindsay Abrams

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