The big question regarding San Francisco’s ban on plastic water bottles

Wahoo! San Francisco has become the first major city to ban the sale of plastic water bottles. In an effort to curb pollution, selling plastic water bottles under 21 oz. will result in a $1000 fine. This is a huge stand against what’s become a multi-billion dollar industry since the 1990’s.

Here’s a question, though. Dasani (owned by Coca Cola), Aquafina (owned by Pepsico), and Pure Life/Perrier/Poland Springs/San Pellegrino (all owned by Nestlé) aren’t likely going to say “that’s ok, we just won’t sell water in California.”

According to IBIS World, the United States is the largest consumer of bottled water in the world.

So, they will obviously find a different packaging solution. But what?

deja blueAluminum? Easily recycled, but there’s always the BPA concern.  The only canned water I’ve ever seen is on Southwest Airlines: Deja Blue.

Glass was a problem from start: stepping on broken glass while walking barefoot on beach isn’t fun. And, glass containers aren’t usually allowed by pools or in sports arenas. Not to mention, glass is expensive.

imageWhat would make the most sense is reusable water containers. But, you may have noticed lately that something is missing… yep, water fountains.

I vividly remember the uncomfortable pinch in my waist as my parents would do the one-arm lift holding me up to a drinking fountain.  But, it’s not something you see often anymore.

Take a look around next time you’re out…where are the drinking fountains? Usually you’ll find them in schools, and occasionally you can find them in the airport.  But in our parks? At our playgrounds?

imageEven a few years ago at Disney World I noticed the lack of drinking fountains as I looked to refill my reusable bottle.  I believe I counted 10 spots to buy water for every fountain I saw.

Why is this?

The obvious answer…bottled water is a multi-billion dollar industry. And, the consumer has been lead to believe that bottled water is healthier. Yet, they often aren’t held to the same safety standards as tap water. Not to mention the hazardous chemicals within many of the bottles themselves. Ironically, bottled waters labeled “purified” or “drinking water” can come from the municipal water supply…yes, like the one in your home town.

imageIn 2012, Swiss filmmakers dove into the bottled water industry in their documentary Bottled Life. The film focused on Nestlé which controls not only Pure Life, Perrier, Poland Springs, San Pellegrino but 70 other water brands.

Nestlé was uncooperative in allowing access to their plants or answering researchers questions throughout the entire project. While much controversy has risen from this film, what is undisputed is the amount of water-rich land Nestlé owns worldwide.

Why is this important? Because he who owns the land has the pumping rights.

So, do I think Nestlé (or any other company with a hand in the bottled water industry) will ” go gently into that good night” because San Fransisco placed a ban on water plastic water bottles? Not a chance.

Will they take notice if more cities join the ban? Maybe? But, I truly believe that at this pace, fresh water will soon become a bigger commodity than oil. Do we really want Nestlé- or any major corporation- holding so much of it in their hands?


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