San Francisco has become the first city in America to ban the sale of plastic water bottles, a move that is building on a global movement to reduce the huge amount of waste from the billion-dollar plastic bottle industry.
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Over the next four years, the ban in San Francisco will phase out the sales of plastic water bottles that hold 21 ounces or less in public places. Waivers are permissible if an adequate alternative water source is not available.
One of the largest supporters of the proposal was the Think Outside the Bottle campaign, a national effort that encourages restrictions of the “eco-unfriendly product.”
San Francisco’s ban is less strict than the full prohibitions passed in 14 national parks, a number of universities and Concord, Mass.
Violators of the ban would face fines of up to $1,000.
Joshua Arce, chairman of the Commission on the Environment, said the ban is “another step forward on our zero-waste goal.” The City wants to have no waste going to its landfill by 2020. Its diversion rate now stands at 80 percent.
Past efforts toward the goal included banning plastic bags and plastic-foam containers.
“We had big public events for decades without plastic bottles and we’ll do fine without them again,” Arce said.
The American Beverage Association, which includes Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo, said in a statement that the ban was “nothing more than a solution in search of a problem. This is a misguided attempt by city supervisors to decrease waste in a city of avid recyclers.”
Source: Global Flare
According to the EPA, the national recycling rate in the U.S. is only about 34%. That means most of our solid waste goes to landfills and incinerators - including recyclable items like paper, glass, metal, and plastic.
Massive amounts of food waste that can be composted is clogging landfills, creating dangerous greenhouse gases.
Many cities are starting to tackle this problem by implementing policies to help curb waste by recycling and composting more. It's known as the "zero waste" movement, and San Francisco is on the forefront. Other cities that have zero waste goals include Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Austin, and Oakland. But San Francisco has been the most aggressive.
In 2009 the board of supervisors passed an ordinance requiring all residents and business to recycle and compost their waste, making it the first American city to make composting mandatory.
Its goal is to achieve zero waste by 2020, and it has diverted 80% of its waste from landfills so far. Now the city is getting attention from all around the world.
Government officials from China, Italy, France, Denmark, India, and many other countries have visited San Francisco's state of the art recycling and composting facilities in hopes of learning how to replicate its success.
For more on San Francisco's Zero Waste plan: http://sfenvironment.org/zero-waste
Here are ways to reduce your plastic waste:
- Stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw
- Use a reusable produce bag. A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Purchase or make your own reusable produce bag and be sure to wash them often!
- Give up gum. Gum is made of synthetic rubber, aka plastic.
- Buy boxes instead of bottles. Often, products like laundry detergent come in cardboard which is more easily recycled than plastic.
- Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container. You save money and unnecessary packaging.
- Reuse containers for storing leftovers or shopping in bulk.
- Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages, even when ordering from a to-go shop
- Bring your own container for take-out or your restaurant doggy-bag since many restaurants use styrofoam.
- Use matches instead of disposable plastic lighters or invest in a refillable metal lighter.
- Avoid buying frozen foods because their packaging is mostly plastic. Even those that appear to be cardboard are coated in a thin layer of plastic. Plus you'll be eating fewer processed foods!
- Don't use plasticware at home and be sure to request restaurants do not pack them in your take-out box.
- Ask your local grocer to take your plastic containers (for berries, tomatoes, etc.) back. If you shop at a farmers market they can refill it for you.
- The EPA estimates that 7.6 billion pounds of disposable diapers are discarded in the US each year. Use cloth diapers to reduce your baby's carbon footprint and save money.
- Make freshly squeezed juice or eat fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles. It's healthier and better for the environment.
- Make your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic bottles of cleaner.
- Pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags. Also, opt for fresh fruits and veggies and bulk items instead of products that come in single serving cups.
- Use a razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor