After announcing last month that Montreal will banish plastic bags by 2018, Mayor Denis Coderre went one step further, saying the city is looking into banning plastic water bottles as well, reports USA Today.
“I raised the subject of plastic water bottles because it’s an environmental nuisance,” he said in an email. “More than 700 million of these single-use bottles end up in Quebec’s landfills every year.”
Many cities have implemented fees or bans on single-use plastic bags, but Montreal would be the first large metropolis to ban bottled water. Only the smaller towns of Bundanoon, Australia, and Concord, Massachusetts, have banned bottled water outright. Last month Hamburg, Germany, adopted guidelines that forbid city agencies from purchasing disposable packaging, including bottled water and single-serve coffee pods. San Francisco prohibits the sale of plastic water bottles on city-owned property, but no major cities have called for their total prohibition.
Coderre said Montreal’s ban would likely be limited at first. He cited the excellent quality of Montreal’s tap water — which he says some companies even bottle and sell — as a reason the ban wouldn’t be overly burdensome.
Predictably, the Quebec Bottled Water Association was quick to register its dissent on that view, citing concern for what tourists will drink on visits to the city. Manon Masse, a member of the provincial parliament from the left-wing Quebec Solidaire party, said the ban doesn't go far enough, and should address all beverages sold in plastic bottles.
The city’s environmental committee is currently studying the proposal, and has not yet released a time frame for any type of ban. When San Francisco made the move for city-owned properties in 2014, food trucks and large nonprofits were given until 2018 to comply with the ordinance. Sporting events are exempt.
Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.