| SAN FRANCISCO, March 4
SAN FRANCISCO, March 4 San Francisco moved to
restrict the sale of plastic water bottles on city property on
Tuesday, the first such action by a major U.S. municipality and
the latest in a string of waste-reduction measures that included
a ban on plastic grocery bags.
The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to begin phasing
out the sale and distribution of water in single-use plastic
bottles on city-owned or leased land next fall, and to ban
future water bottle purchases with city funds.
"There are incredible, enormous environmental costs of
plastic water bottles," said Supervisor David Chiu, who
introduced the measure. "It takes 1,000 years for a typical
plastic water bottle to biodegrade."
Numerous cities in California and other states, including
Maui County and a number of Hawaiian municipalities, have made
it illegal for grocery stores to pack consumer purchases in
plastic bags, and a bill recently introduced in the state
legislature would extend such bans statewide.
San Francisco appears to be the first to try to steer
consumers away from using disposable water bottles, which
environmentalists say fill landfills and wash out to sea as
trash just as grocery bags do.
Chiu, who proposed the measure, said bottled water
restrictions would fall in line with a string of actions,
including the plastic bag ban in 2007 and aggressive citywide
Manufacturing, selling and transporting single-use water
bottles also leads to excess reliance on fossil fuels, Chiu
"In San Francisco, we've been leading the way in fighting
for our environment," Chiu said. The city accounts for tens of
millions of water bottles that wind up in landfills, recycling
centers or in the ocean each year, he said.
Some sellers of the water bottles have moved to reduce the
amount of plastic used, but opponents of their use say that is
If the ordinance wins approval on a second reading next week
and is signed by Mayor Ed Lee, then starting in October, city
funds could not be used to purchase bottled water and the
packaged beverage would be banned from all indoor events held on
By October 2016, the ban would apply to most outdoor events
as well as to food trucks and other mobile vendors selling
beverages on city streets.
Non-profit sponsors of events that attract more than 250,000
attendees, including the city's famous gay pride parade, would
be allowed to sell and distribute bottled water until January
2018. Afterwards, organizers could apply with the city to be
granted an exception and sell bottled water at their functions.
Certain athletic events on city property and the San
Francisco International Airport would also be excluded from the
Critics of the measure, including the bottled water
industry, say it would make it difficult for people to choose
water as a healthy option if they are thirsty at a public event
- particularly if sodas or other drinks are still being sold.
"If people are at an event and they don't have a reusable
container in front of them, they're going to look for a packaged
beverage," said Christopher Hogan, a spokesman for the
International Bottled Water Association who said he knows of no
other city to enact such a ban.
"It really reduces people's opportunity to choose the
healthiest packaged beverage, which is bottled water," he said.
But Chiu said the city would counter that by making it
easier for people refill bottles that they bring from home.
"In contrast, people could just take a refillable water
bottle, put it under a tap and fill it up," Chiu said.
The measure will be sent to Lee's desk for final approval
after a second procedural vote next week. Lee cannot veto an
ordinance if it is twice approved unanimously, city officials
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Lisa Shumaker)