Quantcast

San Francisco Airport Bans Plastic Water Bottle Sales

Popular
JasonDoiy / iStock/ Getty Images Plus

If you're looking for a bottle of water in SFO after you've cleared security and rushed to the gate, think again. Yes, hustling through the terminal made you thirsty, but did you pack your refillable water bottle in your carry-on?


San Francisco International Airport sure hopes so. Starting Aug. 20, you will either have to bring your own water bottle or buy an airport-approved glass, aluminum or certified compostable water bottle. Airport vending machines, shops and restaurants will no longer be able to sell you plastic water bottles, adhering to a city ordinance prohibiting the sale of plastic water bottles on city owned property, according to CNN.

An airport statement said the ban includes purified water, mineral water, carbonated or sparkling water, and electrolyte-enhanced water.

"This is a big move for the airport," said Doug Yakel, SFO's public information officer, as CNN reported. "It just further supports our green initiative."

The green initiative, which included banning plastic straws last month, is part of a five-year plan launched in 2016 to become the world's first zero-waste airport by 2021, as The Guardian reported. The plan, which aims to slash the airport's carbon emissions and fossil fuel use, also calls for transitioning at least 90 percent of the airport's refuse away from landfills by focusing sales on reusable, recyclable and compostable products instead, according to the non-profit Zero Waste Alliance, as CNN reported.

Before the ban was announced, the airport installed more than 100 water fountains and water bottle filling stations.

"We waited until now because a few years back there was really no market in place to provide an alternative to water in a plastic bottle," said Yakel, as The Guardian reported.

It also ordered the airport's restaurants and food vendors not to distribute single-use items unless they were requested by the customer. Such accessories include condiment packets, chopsticks, cup sleeves and lids, napkins, plastic utensils and drink stirrers, according to The Guardian. Furthermore, all of those items that a food vendor does distribute must be fully compostable.

Airport vendors sell nearly 4 million plastic water bottles every year. The demand for them may make the transition to alternative packaging tricky for airport vendors to adhere to, especially since the airport does not yet have an enforcement policy in place, according to the Associated Press.

The supply of water in non-plastic bottles has yet to meet customer demand. And customers looking for the convenience of plastic may turn to soda and sugar-sweetened drinks instead of water, since they are not prohibited by the plastic water bottle ban.

Airport vendors smoothly transitioned to the previous requirements on single-use plastics thanks to the increased availability of compostable utensils, lids and cups, said said Michael Levine, CEO of the company that oversees Napa Farms Market, which sells grab-and-go fare in Terminal 2 and International Terminal G.

"But the water bottle impact is a little trickier," he told the Associated Press.

Yakel hopes other airports will follow SFO's lead, which will force water bottle manufacturers to stop using plastic packaging.

"We're hoping that as the demand from retailers increases, there's an increasing supply of water that's bottled in something recyclable," said Yakel, as The Guardian reported. "We're hoping to drive that industry as well."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

We need our government to do everything it can to stop PFAS contamination and exposure from wreaking havoc in communities across the country. LuAnn Hun / Unsplash

By Genna Reed

The EPA announced last week that it is issuing a preliminary regulatory determination for public comment to set an enforceable drinking water standard to two of the most common and well-studied PFAS, PFOA and PFOS.

This decision is based on three criteria:

  1. PFOA and PFOS have an adverse effect on public health
  2. PFOA and PFOS occur in drinking water often enough and at levels of public health concern;
  3. regulation of PFOA and PFOS is a meaningful opportunity for reducing the health risk to those served by public water systems.
Read More
Charging EVs in Stockholm: But where does a dead battery go? Ranjithsiji / Wikimedia Commons

By Kieran Cooke

Driving an electric-powered vehicle (EV) rather than one reliant on fossil fuels is a key way to tackle climate change and improve air quality — but it does leave the old batteries behind as a nasty residue.

Read More
Sponsored
U.S. Secretary of the Treasure Steven Mnuchin arrives for a welcome dinner at the Murabba Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Feb. 22, 2020 during the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP via Getty Images

Finance ministers from the 20 largest economies agreed to add a scant mention of the climate crisis in its final communiqué in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sunday, but they stopped short of calling it a major economic risk, as Reuters reported. It was the first time the G20 has mentioned the climate crisis in its final communiqué since Donald Trump became president in 2017.

Read More
Aerial view of Parque da Cachoeira, which suffered the January 2019 dam collapse, in Brumadinho, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil — one of the country's worst industrial accidents that left 270 people dead. Millions of tons of toxic mining waste engulfed houses, farms and waterways, devastating the mineral-rich region. DOUGLAS MAGNO / AFP / Getty Images

By Christopher Sergeant, Julian D. Olden

Scars from large mining operations are permanently etched across the landscapes of the world. The environmental damage and human health hazards that these activities create may be both severe and irreversible.

Read More
Participants of the climate demonstration Fridays for Future walk through Hamburg, Germany on Feb. 21, 2020. Axel Heimken / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

U.S.-based youth climate activists on Friday drew attention to the climate protest in Hamburg, Germany, where organizers said roughly 60,000 people took part, and hoped that Americans took inspiration from their European counterparts.

Read More