Voters in Concord, MA Reject Bottled Water Ban

In a vote that garnered national attention, town meeting members in Concord, MA narrowly rejected a resolution that would have banned the sale of water in single-serving plastic bottles. According to an article in the Boston Globe, the final tally was 265 to 272 against the ban, with dissenters claiming it would negatively impact local businesses and limit freedom of choice for consumers.

“If people can’t get what they want at a Concord store, they’ll shop somewhere else, and when they go somewhere else for one thing they’ll end up buying a lot of things,” said resident Tom First, who is also the founder and CEO of Concord-based Owater.

And despite enjoying popularity among most residents for its environmental intent, many were concerned that the ban would subject Concord to a lawsuit from the bottled water industry.

“The cost of defending ourselves against such a lawsuit could be steep… it would be a significant expense for the town,” said Robert Wieand, chairman of the Concord Board of Selectmen.

However, a second resolution pertaining to bottled water did pass during the session on Tuesday. The resolution called for a voluntary ban on bottled water and included an educational component to inform residents about the negatives of PET bottles and the ease of refilling a reusable container. While the bill faced some criticism because the source of funding for this educational program was unclear, several in the community felt it was more appropriate than an outright ban.

“I say it’s more important to educate and teach, than dictate,” said resident Marshall Dorr.