Australian Town Bans Plastic Water Bottles

Text by Annie Hay

When a Sydney, Australia-based beverage company proposed plans to extract water from a reservoir in Bundanoon, a 2,000-person town about 160 miles from Sydney, locals were dubious. When the company announced that the local water would be used to fill plastic water bottles that it would then sell in Sydney, and, inevitably, back in Bundanoon, locals were incensed. (Read the story in the New York Times here.)

On July 8th, a town meeting of more than 400 people unanimously voted to outlaw the sale of bottled water in Bundanoon. Aside from the obvious economic reasons, locals also cited the environmentally degrading effects of the water bottles. To make up for the loss of bottled water, the town plans to add more public drinking fountains and will provide reusable water bottles, decorated with the town’s new slogan, “Bundy on Tap,” for people to fill with clean, fresh tap water. The same week that the Bundanoon decision was made, New South Whales Premier Nathan Rees announced a ban on the bottles in all government departments and agencies, urging other state governments to follow suit.

The plastic bottles require a whopping 200 ml of oil per 600 ml water bottle created and emit untold amount of carbon dioxide during the creation and transportation process.
While shopkeepers stand to lose money in the decision, they argue that saving the environment–and the town the humiliation of buying back its own water–is well worth it.