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Concord, Mass is U.S.’ First City to Start Banning Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles


plasticWith US cities continuing the fight to ban plastic bags, Concord has now become the very first one to actually succeed in banning single-use plastic bottles. The successful ban was achieved through efforts by local groups and a successful Ban the Bottle campaign over a three-year period.

The bylaw makes illegal the sale of unflavored, non-sparkling liquids in 1 liter or less single-use polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. Excluding emergencies, first offenders attract a warning, after which the second offence attracts a $25 fine. Third and subsequent offences incur a $50 fine, and this would be enforced by the Health Division in Concord beginning this year.

Numbers by Ban the Bottle indicate that about 17 million barrels of oil are used up each year to manufacture single-use plastic bottles, the same amount it takes to fuel 1.3 million cars each year. Also, the EPA reported that 2010 saw America produce as much as 31 million tons of non-reusable plastic waste whereas only 23% of the 50 billion bottles used in 2007 were actually recycled. Hence, as more and more cities ban plastic bottles, this could help reduce petroleum waste in the US.

Not only are the activists interested in the petroleum footprint of these bottles, but are also focussed on the impact this has on local water bodies since companies are evidently depleting such water resources to sell back to the community at subsidized prices to gain a profit.

Also of concern is the health risks these bottles pose. For instance, antimony, which is used in these bottles, in low doses is a known cause of dizziness and depression and could result in anxiety, vomiting, and even death in higher doses.

The bylaw has however been criticized since single-use plastic bottles can be bought legally in nearby cities to be used in Concord and that the law only covers bottles 1 liter or smaller, meaning that bottles of more liter bottles can be produced.

Still, it is definitely a step in the right direction to see the problem of petroleum waste being tackled by a community to help reduce the environmental degradation while focussing on clean and healthy drinking water.

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