San Francisco, the ban-happy City by the Bay where a rather eclectic assortment of things — Happy Meals, circumcision, Segways (hallelujah!), pantlessness — have been the subject of citywide prohibitions both proposed and enacted, is expected to outlaw the sale of bottled water on city property.
Earlier this week, the city’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to initiate a phase-out of the sale and distribution of throwaway plastic water bottles 21 oz or smaller on land owned or leased by the city. Due to take effect next fall beginning with indoor events held on public property and eventually extending to most outdoor events by October 2016, the ban would also prohibit the purchase of bottled water using city funds.
Will Dasani — or at least Dasani peddled on public property — join plastic shopping bags and go the way of the dodo bird in San Francisco? If Mayor Ed Lee signs the legislation following a second go around of voting next week, it would make San Francisco the first major municipality in the United States to launch a citywide ban on the sale of bottled water.
You may recall that in January 2013, the town of Concord, Mass., ushered in a bylaw that prohibits the sale of standard-size, single-use bottled water 34 oz or less anywhere within town limits — gas stations, vending machines, the Stop & Shop, you name it. (I'm assuming that more than a few residents drove across town to get their contraband at Costco). The sale of bottled water is also verboten at numerous universities and several national parks across the country.
While zero waste-by-2020-aiming San Francisco’s ban on bottled water isn’t nearly as far-reaching as Concord’s, City Supervisor David Chiu, the author of the ordinance who first unveiled it this past December, believes it can make a positive dent in the city’s BW consumption habits:
We all know with climate change, and the importance of combatting [sic] climate change, San Francisco has been leading the way to fight for our environment. That's why I ask you to support this ordinance to reduce and discourage single-use, single-serving plastic water bottles in San Francisco.
I want to remind people that not long ago, our world was not addicted to plastic water bottles. Before (the 1990s), for centuries, everybody managed to stay hydrated.
There would be some exceptions, as outlined in Chiu's ordinance: the sale and distribution of bottled water would be permitted at San Francisco International Airport and at certain athletic events held on city land, including marathons. Additionally, large nonprofit groups such as the organizers of the annual Gay Pride Parade as well as food truck and street vendors would be given until 2018 to do away with bottled water. After that, they’d have to gain special permission from the city to sell the stuff.
The American Beverage Association is obviously not thrilled with the news calling the ordinance in a statement “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."
Any thoughts San Francisco residents?
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