Cities across the country have already worked towards banning plastic bags, and now Concord, Massachusetts has become one of the very first communities to ditch the single-use plastic bottle. The result of a three-year effort by local activists and an effective Ban the Bottle campaign, the new bylaw would make it illegal to sell non-sparkling, unflavored liquids in single-serving polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles of 1 liter or less. With exceptions for emergencies, a first offense will garner a warning, the second infraction incurs a $25 fine, and the third transgression earns a $50 fine. Concord’s Health Division is in charge of enforcing the ban starting the first of this year.

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According to Ban the Bottle, single-serve plastic bottles take 17 million barrels of oil a year to produce, enough fuel to power 1.3 million cars a year. In 2007, Americans used 50 billion bottles, recycling only 23% of that amount. In 2010, the EPA estimated that the US generated 31 million tons of non biodegradable plastic waste. Banning plastic bottles in cities across the country could go a long way to reducing our petroleum footprint.

Activists are not only concerned over the amount of fossil fuels needed to make a container, but the impact that the bottled water industry has on local aquifers. Community watchdogs are angry that large companies are in effect draining water tables and undermining tax payer-funded infrastructure in order to sell back subsidized water for a profit. Ban the Bottle also cites human health as an issue, noting that antimony, a chemical found in plastic bottles, has been known to cause depression and dizziness in low doses, and in large doses can induce vomiting, anxiety, and death.

Some critics of the ban question the usefulness of the law, observing that those who want to buy single-use bottles can travel a short distance to neighboring cities to purchase them. Some businesses have also taken advantage of a loophole by selling 20 oz bottles, since the legislation only focuses on sizes 1 liter or less. Even so, it is encouraging to see a community make strides towards reducing its impact on the environment and help keep its citizens hydrated and healthy.

+ Ban the Bottle

Via Huffington Post

Images via Wikicommons users Streetwise Cycle and Malama Pono