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San Francisco Enacts Plastic Water Bottle Ban

First came plastic bags, then styrofoam cups, and now, plastic water bottles—though the ban is not as far-reaching as the former two in that it is restricted to sales on city property, including street fairs.
March 8, 2014, 9am PST | Irvin Dawid
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Steven Depolo

"During the next four years, the ban will phase out the sales of plastic water bottles holding 21 ounces or less on city property, indoor or outdoor, which will impact park vendors, food truck operators, street fairs and places like the Moscone Center convention facility. Waivers are permissible if an adequate alternative water source is not available," writes Joshua Sabatini.

As far-reaching as the ban may be, San Francisco is not the first to enact it, though it is the largest. The "ban is less strict than the full prohibitions passed in 14 national parks, a number of universities and Concord, Mass.," writes Sabatini.

While California may be in a drought, the main reason for the ban is to reduce plastic bottle waste, said Board of Supervisors President David Chiu who proposed the legislation.

In San Francisco, Recology (the city's waste collector) collects 10 million to 15 million single-use plastic water bottles a year, Chiu said. Violators of the ban would face fines of up to $1,000.

Joshua Arce, chairman of the Commission on the Environment, said the ban is “another step forward on our zero-waste goal.” The City wants to have no waste going to its landfill by 2020. Its diversion rate now stands at 80 percent. 

The ban is opposed by the American Beverage Association and supported by the "Think Outside the Bottle campaign, a nationwide effort that encourages restrictions of the eco-unfriendly product.”

While it may strike some as odd that vendors can simply sell soda or juice beverages in plastic bottles, the Board of Supervisors has another plan of attack on them: a two-cent tax on sugary beverages. Sabatini also provided an update on that ballot measure.

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Published on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 in San Francisco Examiner
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