Bundanoon: First Bottled Water Ban in the World
Bundanoon, Australia, has become the first town in the world to ban bottled water.
John Dee, the director of Do Something, an environmental group that helped bring about a plastic bag ban in Tasmania, confirmed that while other cities have taxed sales of bottled water, Bundanoon is the first to implement a town-wide, outright ban.
Retailers in the rural, New South Wales town have supported the ban, despite the prospect of losing profits formerly earned from bottled water sales. All businesses in the town will no longer sell bottled water, and visitors will be given bottles labelled "Bundy on tap", which they may fill for free from filtered water fountains in the street.
According to cafe owner Huw Kingston, the residents of Bundanoon wanted to shrink their collective carbon footprint, by clamping down on the processes associated with producing and selling bottled water.
Mr Kingston, who started the campaign to ban bottled water from Bundanoon added: "It's a moral thing. The sale of still bottled water is a fantastic con job by the beverage industry It's been a wonderful marketing job, convincing people to spend A$3.50 to buy essentially the water that comes out of a tap."
In 2008, sales of bottled water saw a considerable boom in Australia, increasing 10 per cent while sales declined in the northern hemisphere of the globe. Year 2007 saw a worldwide boom for bottled water, until the backlash that occurred when consumers became more aware of the excessive prices and environmental impact of bottled water.
The Bundy on Tap campaign started in 2007, in response to a proposal by Norlex Holdings to "truck millions of litres of water out of the bore here [in Bundanoon], take it up to Sydney then stick it in plastic bottles and bring it back to sell", said Kingston. While protesting the proposal, residents of Bundanoon began asking themselves about the issue of having bottled water in the town at all.
On Tuesday, July 7, Premier Nathan Rees of New South Wales showed support for the bottled water ban in Bundanoon by ordering the government's own ban on purchasing bottled water in all state departments and agencies, to be followed by a public awareness campaign against bottled water.
While awareness of the unnecessity and environmental harm of bottled water has been increasing across the globe generally, recent reports have revealed that consumers may not actually know that much about the bottled water they have been drinking. In reports released Wednesday, July 8, by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the research and advocacy Environmental Working Group (EWG), recommendations were made for stricter bottled water labeling regulations that disclose more information to consumers.
Currently, municipal water (tap water) in the United States is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, while bottled water, considered a "food product", is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While the two organizations have similar standards, according to the reports, the FDA is less able to enforce their standards while the environmental agency requires much more testing of the water they regulate.
In spite of this, a GAO survey found that most consumers are misinformed about the issue, believing bottled water is safer or healthier than tap water. As a result, the FDA is being asked to require bottled water companies to provide more information to consumers on the water they are drinking.
Says Richard Wiles, senior vice president of Environmental Working Group for policy and communications, "Consumers should know where all their water comes from, how it is treated and what is found in it."
"If the municipal tap water systems can tell their customers this information, you would think that bottled water companies that charge 1,000 times more for this water could also let consumers know the same thing," he told The Associated Press.
The International Bottled Water Association, lead by president and chief executive Joseph Doss, was to testify on July 8 that their product is safe.
Doss said consumers can learn about bottled water by contacting the company, reading its Web site and visiting sites run by state governments.