For many people, a new year means resolutions. And for one Massachusetts town, that means doing away with disposable plastic water bottles.
According to the EPA, in 2010, the U.S. generated 31 million tons of plastic waste. The town of Concord is fighting against those numbers by becoming the first municipality in the nation to ban the sale of single-serving water bottles smaller than 1 liter. Following a vote in April, the town ban went into effect on New Year’s Day.
The bill is largely the result of the hard work of town resident Jean Hill, 84. Back in 2010, she Hill told the New York Times, “I’m going to work until I drop on this.” She added: “If you believe in something, you have to persist and you have to have a thick skin.” Hill spearheaded two previous — though failed — attempts to ban the bottles before the April measure passed the Town Council. She told the Boston Globe that she was “elated” after the bill passed, noting, “I’m so proud of the town.’”
The Town of Concord’s website includes the newly enacted bylaw: “It shall be unlawful to sell non-sparkling, unflavored drinking water in single-serving polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles of 1 liter (34 ounces) or less in the Town of Concord on or after January 1, 2013.” Under terms of the ban, stores that violate the ban and sell bottled water will receive a warning on the first offense, a $25 fine for the second, and $50 for each subsequent infraction. The ban would be suspended during emergencies.
Locals who pushed for the idea say the ban will reduce waste and help cut fossil fuel use in bottle production, the AP reports. Not everyone in Concord is happy about the ban, though. Many business owners oppose the ban, saying it restricts freedom of choice. The ban, they add, will have little effect on the environment as consumers will simply drive to neighboring towns to buy their water.
Concord is perhaps best known as the town that jailed writer Henry David Thoreau for 164 years ago after he refused to pay taxes while living at Walden Pond.