Good news is coming from San Francisco, the first city in America which bans the sale of plastic water bottles. This step is recognized as a global movement to reduce the huge amount of plastic waste from the billion dollar plastic bottle industry.
We heard the voices of people who said that this step was unnecessary and inadequate. In the city, which was built on the desert land and has long hot summers we simply cannot ban plastic water bottles. In my opinion, it requires only a little bit of awareness to understand and to adopt a habit of carrying a bottle of water with you.
However, shocking was the statement of The American Beverage Association, which includes Coca-Cola Co. and Pepsi Co. Their statement was that the ban of plastic bottles was “nothing more than a solution in search of a problem. This is a misguided attempt by city supervisors to decrease waste in a city of avid recycle” (Global Flare, 2015).
My understanding of the statement is very simple. In the city with one of the highest recycling practices in the world, banning plastic water bottles is just creating an unnecessary problem. Seriously, why would you ban plastic bottles, if there is already a well-developed system of recycling? Plastic bottles are not a problem.
Plastic water bottles might not be a problem for these companies, but it is definitely unthinkable profit for plastic bottles industry. We can find them everywhere, but they are especially sold in touristic spots, national parks and sports centres. For these companies, to make a new plastic bottle is a very cheap process with huge profit margins and they don’t have to worry about the cost involved in disposing these bottles because it goes from taxpayers’ pockets. Therefore, American Beverage Association is obviously not supporting the ban of plastic bottles.
To eliminate the plastic water bottles in one National park, it requires 8 million kilowatt hours of electricity and it produces almost 6000 metric tons of carbon emissions every year. The Plastic industry argues that if we get rid of bottled water, people will start drinking more soda and other soft drinks instead. But if, we offer refilling free water stations people will bring their bottles with them or they will buy a reusable bottle.
True, San Francisco is one of the cities with the highest rate of recycling, on average they recycle between 80-90 % of all waste. So why ban water bottles? Every product – recycled or not has an energy and resource cost. Sadly, we use it only once. Water bottles, new or recycled are manufactured in petrochemical plants that release harmful air. People who live near these plants reported numerous health problem and they believe it is caused by the air pollutants emitting from these plants. What make the use of plastic water bottles even harder to swallow are the chemicals which we are ingesting with every sip in our body.
Lastly but very important is the fact that plastic water bottle industry aims to privatize and sell back that one resource which should never become a commodity – our water.
The case of plastic water bottles should not be about the economy and the profits. It should be about what is right and what is wrong.
Selling water which we all own, extensively expending the energy and resources for one time using bottles, polluting air and taking risk of our own health – we should have seen all these effects long time ago!
The plastic water bottle companies will not stop, they will even try to convince us that what they are doing is good and we should follow them.
San Francisco is going to be the first zero waste city in the world. I believe this is what we should follow.
Member of Vatavaran team