Last week residents of Concord, Massachusetts voted to ban the sale of all bottled water by next January, making it the first U.S. town to take such action.
The effort was lead by Jean Hill, an 82-year old activist, who lobbied neighbors and officials alike on the consequences of plastic bottles filling landfills and polluting local waters. "All these discarded bottles are damaging our planet, causing clumps of garbage in the oceans that hurt fish, and are creating more pollution on our streets,'' says Hil. "This is a great achievement to be the first in the country to do this. This is about addressing an injustice.''
Of course, the $10 billion industry is less than thrilled with the news and has even threatened a legal challenge. They argue that singling out bottled water is unfair when "thousands of food, medicinal, beauty and cleaning products packaged in plastic." But this isn't the first time bottled water has been targeted.
More than 100 towns across the United States already prohibit spending city dollars on the product.
"We obviously don't think highly of the vote in Concord,'' said Joe Doss, president of the International Bottled Water Association, a trade association that represents bottlers, suppliers, and distributors. "Any efforts to discourage consumers from drinking water, whether tap water or bottled water, is not in the best interests of consumers. Bottled water is a very healthy, safe, convenient product that consumers use to stay hydrated.''
But bottled water is hardly safe. As the NRDC reports, water stored in plastic bottles for 10 weeks showed signs of phthalate-leaching. Phthalates block testosterone and other hormores! And keep in mind, while phthalates in tap water are regulated, no such regulations exist at all for bottled water. And as the infographic above points out, bottled water costs 10,000 times more than tap water and 40-percent of it comes straight from the tap.
The Concord ordinance is part of a statewide effort for a new bottle law. The state's 29-year-old law only allows consumers to redeem bottles and cans from soda and beer. Bottles from non-carbonated water, iced tea, juices or energy drinks--which account for one-third of all beverages sold in Massachusetts--are not redeemable. The new law would raise the redemption fee to 10 cents and cover a larger variety of beverage bottles.