Massachusetts Town Bans Single-Use Water Bottles

The Ban Applies To Bottles One Liter Or Smaller

Water Bottle BanConcord, MA, has become the first community in the U.S. to ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles - a highly-publicized decision that is likely to be challenged in court. The ban, which first had to be approved by the state's attorney general, applies to bottles that are one liter or smaller and is scheduled to take effect starting on January 1, 2013.

"We're disappointed in the attorney general's decision and we will be looking at other legal options,'' said Chris Hogan, a spokesman for the International Bottled Water Association, which is considering filing a lawsuit to overturn the ban. "We're also disappointed in how this will affect the residents and visitors in Concord."

The controversial measure was first approved by Concord residents at a town hall meeting in 2010, but was later rejected by state officials on grounds that it wasn't written as a valid bylaw. After it was reconfigured in 2011, the rule was defeated by just seven votes from town residents. Then, in April of this year, the latest proposal won enough support to pass by 40 votes. This time, state officials agreed the ban doesn't violate existing federal laws.

"I can't tell you how thrilled I am," said Jean Hill, the Concord resident who proposed the ban. "It took three years to do this and now that it's happened, I'm so relieved."

Concord's town manager plans to work with health officials to oversee the ban and develop an enforcement policy. According to the measure, any store that sells single-use plastic water bottles will be given a one-time warning. A second offense will draw a $25 fine and any subsequent offenses will lead to a $50 fine.