Concord Bans Bottled Water

by |June 24, 2010

Concord, Massachusetts is famous for the fact that Thoreau lived there at Walden Pond in the 1800s. But today, the environmentally conscious town is gaining more and more press as the first town in the United States to ban the sale of bottled water.

bottledwaterAn 82-year-old woman named Jean Hill orchestrated the ban, and it was passed at a town meeting this past spring. If the ban holds, beginning on January 1, bottled water will no longer be sold within the town. However, it is still uncertain how such a ban can be enforced and handled. While it may have good intentions, there are several road blocks that must be cleared before an outright ban can begin. The two major hurdles are the legality and the enforceability of such a ban.

First of all, there is the issue of whether it is legal at all. Bottled water companies have already said they plan on suing if the ban takes effect. When so many other companies use plastic water bottles, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, and bottled teas, a ban on only bottled water and not all bottled beverages brings up some issues that can cause major controversies. Since bottled water is a legal commodity, a ban might infringe on free-trade agreements. If this is the case, bottled water companies can potentially get this ban overturned.

Second, the issue of how to enforce such a ban is still uncertain. What sort of repercussions would there be for companies that do not comply? Due to the touristic nature of the Walden pond area, which gets many visitors  during hot summer,  many vendors will be unhappy and unwilling to stop selling bottled water because of the large number of tourists that need to be hydrated. Will the ban be enforced, or is it more of a suggestion, so that refreshment stands that ignore it will have no punishment? A ban without punishment is not going to be an effective ban.

In my opinion, this ban is ignoring the reason for the large amount of garbage that is caused from plastic bottles. It remains a fact that almost 80% of plastic drink bottles are trashed rather than recycled. Banning bottled water will not solve this problem, and the amount of trashed bottles will be barely affected. There are several good reasons for not drinking bottled water, but the argument about the plastic bottles is far more widespread than just bottled water. If they are going to stop bottled water, they need to evaluate stopping soda and fruit juice companies as well.

What is your opinion? Is this a step in the right direction, or is this ban unnecessary and other paths should be used to decrease the use of bottled water and decrease pollution from plastic bottles? We would love to hear your comments!


One thought on “Concord Bans Bottled Water

  1. ZACA says:

    The ban definitely misses an important point, but recycling is not it. I imagine the people behind the ban on bottled water are all too aware of the enormous amount of waste incurred by the industry each year, as well as the portion that could potentially be diverted from landfills. So with that in mind, they are going a step further and saying that the issue in this case is not that we need to improve our recycling statistics, but that we should not have to do so in the first place. The bill has been introduced because the waste stream created by the bottled water industry should not exist in the first place; not because it is cleaned up inefficiently, true as that may be.

    We are not going to get rid of bottled water by banning it, though. Rather, this waste stream can be eliminated only by teaching people that they do not need it — we need to address the unnecessary demand for bottled water, not reduce the supply.

    With that said, it is an interesting first step, and if the legal fees incurred by the town and state are not too great, the publicity that hopefully follows the case just might be worthwhile in the end, regardless of the outcome.

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