A campaign to forbid plastic water bottles in Concord, Mass., has paid off, as the town becomes the first in the nation to enact a bylaw prohibiting their usage. The efforts were led by activist Jean Hill, now 85, who said in 2010 that “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.”

According to Matt Hickman at Mother Nature Network, “As of earlier this week, Concord is now one of the first, if not the first, city or town in the nation where it’s illegal for stores to peddle wasteful yet painfully ubiquitous drinking vessels that are sometimes recycled into nifty/gimmicky products but most often are not. Many American universities have restricted or banned the on-campus sale of bottled water, but again, Concord is the first town or city in the nation to my knowledge that’s taken a similar stance.”

The ban effects the selling of “non-sparkling, unflavored drinking water in single-serving polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles of 1 liter (34 ounces) or less.” Repeat offenders face up to a $50 fine, although exceptions are offered in the instances of emergencies.


Obviously, possession of single-use 1 liter plastic water bottles is not verboten in Concord and it’s expected that many residents will simply get their fix by traveling to nearby towns and purchasing the forbidden product there. I know more than a few people (hi Mom!) who would be forced to stock up on bottled agua in neighboring Acton, Bedford, or Sudbury if they lived in Concord. And on that note, businesses in Concord are none too pleased with the new bylaw although they aren’t prohibited from selling bottled water in containers that are larger than 1 liter. The sale of 1 liter sodas and other flavored beverages is also still permitted.

Like its also-banned-in-some-places cousin, the single-use plastic shopping bag, the throwaway water bottle has a mighty adverse impact on the environment. According to local environmental group Concord Conserves, the bottled water industry produces as much carbon dioxide as 2 million cars. On a local scale, discarded and recycled plastic water bottles add 45 tons each year to Concord’s waste stream. Nationally, it’s estimated that less than 25 percent of plastic water bottles are recycled. And these stats are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

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— Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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