The San Francisco airport (SFO) has become the first airport to announce a full ban of plastic water bottles throughout its stores and restaurants. The ban will go into affect swiftly, starting August 20, as part of the airport’s overall pledge to reach zero-waste by 2021. Staff and passengers will need to bring or purchase refillable water bottles or compostable cups that can be used at the airport’s 100 different refilling stations.
“We’re the first airport that we’re aware of to implement this change,” said Doug Yakel, SFO representative. “We’re on the leading edge for the industry, and we want to push the boundaries of sustainability initiatives.”
Currently, airport vendors sell a total of 4 million water bottles every year, which equates to more than 10,000 daily. The ban will have a significant impact on the city of San Francisco’s progress toward achieving zero-waste. San Francisco and nearby Berkeley also recently banned plastic straws.
In 2011, the airport began installing water bottle refilling stations and encouraging passengers to bring their own refillable bottles made of glass, metal or multi-use plastic. Travelers, however, must bring the bottles empty to comply with TSA regulations and pass through security before filling their bottles. Since 2011, SFO has increased the number of refill stations to nearly 100. Other vendors may opt to provide their own water refill stations with compostable cups.
Michael Levine, head of Napa Farms Market that operates stores in SFO’s terminals, said, “If this is successful in San Francisco, it will be copied by other airports.”
Image via Conger Design