Wednesday, June 25, 2008

U.S. Mayors Shut The Tap on Bottled Water

Meeting in Miami this week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, banned bottled water for city workers. Citing environmental concerns and the excellent quality of municipal water, the cities will no longer use municipal funds to purchase water bottles.

Our own Mayor Gavin Newsom, who phased out the purchase of bottled water in San Francisco last June, proposed the resolution along with 17 other big-city mayors. "Cities are sending the wrong message about the quality of public water when we spend taxpayer dollars on water in disposable containers from a private corporation," he said.

Last year Americans spent an estimated $15 billion on bottled water and this pact only impacts municipal purchases, but a trend is developing. Sixty American mayors have already canceled their hydration contracts, and some places in Canada have also banned the bottle. Rejecting plastic water bottles is more environmentally and financially sustainable. Millions of bottles a day do not get recycled, and the plastic takes at least 1,000 years to biodegrade.

Not surprisingly, the American Beverage Association is not pleased with this development. In a statement, the association stated that private water companies have come to the rescue during emergencies that compromise public water systems. The statement also notes that plastic bottles are 100 percent recyclable (but didn't mention lower-than-desired recycling rates and the additional energy required to recycle).

While some see banning plastic bags and water bottles as a hassle, our oceans and landfills are choked with plastic and need a break. We applaud this bold move and the attention it focuses on unnecessary disposable products. The good news is there are some great alternatives to the plastic water bottle.