Bans on plastic bags have taken root in communities across the country, but banning the sale of water in plastic bottles? The town of Concord, Mass., is in line to be the first in the nation to do just that, now that the state’s attorney general has signed off. The bottled water industry, for its part, is considering a lawsuit.
Championed by an 84-year-old resident during a three-year battle, the law bans the sale of single-serving PET water bottles of one liter or less starting on Jan. 1 in Concord, population 18,000.
A first offense comes with a warning, followed by $25 for second offense and $50 for any beyond that, the Boston Globe reported. It does, however, allow for an exemption during emergencies.
Jean Hill, the Concord resident behind ban, told The Boston Globe that she was relieved after three years of work.
"I hope other towns will follow,’" Hill said. "I feel bottled water is a waste of money."
The state's attorney general initially shot down the proposed ban, but on Wednesday signed off after it was revised last year and it was approved last April by town residents in a 403-364 vote.
In a letter to Concord, state Attorney General Martha Coakley said she was confident the law could stand up in court, citing a case where the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Minnesota law that banned the sale of milk in non-returnable, non-refillable plastic containers. That law was passed in order to reduce the generation of solid waste.
The bottled water industry vowed to fight back, possibly in court.
"We are exploring all available options," the Virginia-based International Bottled Water Association said in a statement.
"This ban deprives residents of the option to choose their choice of beverage and visitors, who come to this birthplace of American independence, a basic freedom gifted to them by the actions in this town more than 200 years ago," the group added, noting Concord's place in U.S. history. "It will also deprive the town of needed tax revenue and harm local businesses that rely on bottled water sales."
The activist group Ban The Bottle welcomed Concord's move, calling it the first of its kind in the U.S.
Some other cities "are taking steps to curb bottled water sales, but only in city and municipal buildings," the group's Tomas Bosque told NBC News. Several universities have done so as well.
San Francisco is considering an ordinance that would require owners of new and renovated buildings to install filling stations, he said, and the city already has such stations at various parks, schools and its airport.
Bundanoon, an Australian town, enacted a ban in 2009 and believes it was the first government to do so anywhere.
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