San Francisco bans single use plastic bottles

Jordan Chris Plastic Bottles 2009 Detail

As expected, San Francisco completed the ban on selling single-use plastic water bottles and became the first major city to make this move. A county-city, spreading for about 46.3 miles, San Francisco is one of the largest and densely populated cities in the US. With a population of about 8.5 million and attracting a lot of tourists every other year, making this bold move towards protecting the environment is commendable.

Around 2-3 decades back, we weren’t using plastic as much as we do these days. “Bring Your Own Bottle” was the norm and most of us carried our bottles, or used fresh water. However, times changed and using disposable plastic bottles was seen as a convenient option. It wasn’t pricey, making it an easy target and many of us switched to using it on a regular basis. In a city with a few millions in population and being a busy tourist attraction, the number of bottles being purchased or discarded could be staggeringly high. According to a data from Recology, 10 – 15 million plastic bottles are collected in San Francisco yearly!

It is hard to imagine, this comfort option, now a $8 billion dollar industry, was once non-existent. On March 4th, San Francisco created history by imposing a ban on selling plastic water bottles in public property, in an effort to reduce plastic-waste accumulation that harms the environment. Although the proposal was being discussed for the last nine months, there were numerous challenges and opposition from multiple quarters, effecting the ban.

Board of Supervisor’s President David Chiu sifted through the issues related to the ban, including the lack of government infrastructure to provide clean drinking water to the general public. Besides, this major challenge, there were minor challenges like the impact such ban will have on events where these bottles are sold like hot cakes! Folsom Street Fair is one example of such events, where these bottles are rolled out in huge numbers regularly. While the American Beverage Association was against the ban, the environmentalists were asking for tough sanctions and ban on all plastic products.

While the feasibility of possibility of imposing the ban remained a question mark till a few weeks back, it is now finalized and a plan to phase out sales of plastic water bottles in the next four years is also charted. Needless to say, plastic can be recycled but isn’t biodegradable, therefore harming the environment.

Though bio-degradable plastics are in the making, they aren’t easily affordable and are not used by many as a result. The ban could impact firms relying on plastic products for their income, or small-scale vendors who gain seasonal or regular income from selling them!

There are waivers for locations where alternative arrangements aren’t done yet. In public parks, a few universities and few other areas, selling plastic water bottles is banned completely, with leniency offered for a few areas depending on the availability of options.  However, being a major city, this ban is a step towards a better tomorrow and could be a role model for other cities across the world.


-Written for Our Daily Good News

– Photo by Chris Jordan