At an annual town hall meeting that garnered nationwide attention, the citizens of Concord, Massachusetts, voted down a proposal to ban the sale of single-serve bottled water. “It is good to see common sense and reasonable public policies prevail in the defeat of this unnecessary and over-reaching measure,” said Joe Doss, President and CEO of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA). “We commend the citizens of Concord for recognizing the importance of bottled water as a safe, healthy, convenient beverage. We also want to thank the Northeast Bottled Water Association (NEBWA) and Concord-based businesses for their tireless efforts in alerting Concord voters to the effects on the local economy of a total prohibition of sale of bottled water.”
IBWA also commends the Retail Association of Massachusetts, who agreed with us that banning bottled water would hurt local merchants and burden Concord taxpayers. In addition, IBWA recognizes the effort made by the Concord Board of Health and Emerson Hospital in Concord, who sent individual letters opposing the ban, citing public health issues if bottled water was not readily available to its citizens.
With this vote, Concord residents have sent a clear message that they care about the availability of bottled water as a matter of consumer choice, health, and safety. IBWA supports the view held by many in Concord that we can and should do more to enhance recycling in the town, particularly public space recycling during warm summer months when packaged beverage sales are high and non-resident tourists play an important role in the local economy.
The Town of Concord faced an influx of attention from anti-bottled water activists seeking total bans on bottled water sales. Among the groups supporting the losing case for prohibition of bottled water were Food and Water Watch and Corporate Accountability International.
A second, non-binding proposal seeking to “educate” Concord voters on the environmental issues surrounding bottled water did pass; unfortunately, the measure does not include language that would address all plastic containers from all beverages and other sources. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, bottled water containers make up just 1/3 of one percent of the entire U.S. waste stream. Therefore, any efforts to reduce the environmental impact of plastic packaging must include all consumer goods.