Concord, MA Residents Ban Bottled Water Sales

If you live in Concord, Massachusetts or will be traveling there, be sure to bring your own reusable water bottle.  Starting January 1, 2011, the sale of bottled water will be banned within city limits.  Concord is the first city in America to completely outlaw bottled water, and the bottled water industry is not happy.

Concord, MA bans bottled water
Concord, MA bans bottled water / Photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis

Bottled water has seen its popularity rise and fall, as environmentalists have educated consumers that tap water is safe, and plastic water bottles are creating a waste nightmare.  Many other cities have cut down on government consumption of bottled water, but thanks to citizen action, Concord will be the first city to be completely bottled water free!  AOL News explains:

The move is a victory for 82-year-old activist and Concord resident Jean Hill, who spearheaded the effort to ban the plastic bottles. She presented the Town Council with a slide show featuring photos of plastic polluting the ocean and mounting in garbage dumps.

“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,” Hill told the Boston Globe. “This is a great achievement to be the first in the country to do this. This is about addressing an injustice.”

Unfortunately, the Concord bottled water ban will most likely be legally challenged by the bottled water industry.  It is questionable as to whether the Town Council has the authority to outlaw a consumer product.

The International Bottled Water Association responded to the ban by stating:

Bottled water is a safe, healthy, convenient food product. With the current high rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease, any actions that discourage or prevent consumers from drinking water –whether tap or bottled — are not in the public interest.

Bottled water is one of thousands of food, medicinal, beauty and cleaning products packaged in plastic. Any efforts to reduce the environmental impact of consumer packaging must focus comprehensively all product containers and not single out any one product. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, bottled water makes up 1/3 of one percent of the U.S. waste stream.   Plastic bottled water containers are the single most recycled item with a rate of 30.9%.

According to the Concord Journal newspaper, town officials and the town’s counsel have stated publicly that the town does not have the power to enact such a ban. IBWA is reviewing all possible remedies, including a legal challenge.

The Concord ban in no way discourages people from drinking water.  It simply encourages residents to use reusable bottles and drinking fountains.  People managed to consume enough water to maintain proper health before bottled water became popular, and they did so without the risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals in plastic bottles.

Written by Jennifer Lance


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