Mass. AG approves ban on sale of water bottles

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Sep 7, 2012


CONCORD, Mass. (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley this week approved one town's ban on the sale of single-serving plastic water bottles.

The bylaw, approved by Concord residents in April and OK'ed by Coakley Wednesday, would make the town the first in the nation.

In particular, the ban would make it illegal to sell non-sparkling or unflavored drinking water in 1 liter or less-sized plastic bottles in the town on or after Jan. 1, 2013.

The attorney general, whose office has been reviewing the bylaw for months, said in her ruling that the ban doesn't violate any state or federal laws, the Boston Globe reported.

However, that doesn't mean it can't, or won't, be challenged in court.

On Wednesday, the International Bottled Water Association, or IBWA, said it was "disappointed" by Coakley's decision to approve the bylaw and said it was "exploring all available options" to continue to oppose it.

"People need to drink more water. The consumption of water, whether from the bottle or the tap, is a good thing and supports people's pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Any actions that discourage people from drinking bottled water are not in the public interest," the trade association said in a statement.

Banning or restricting access to bottled water in the marketplace, IBWA argues, directly impacts the right of people to choose the healthiest beverage on the shelf.

For many, it notes, bottled water is a "critical alternative" to other packaged beverages, which are often less healthy.

And while IBWA says it supports a strong public water system, it adds that the water from such systems is often compromised following natural disasters or other emergency situations.

"During these times, bottled water is a necessary and reliable 'second source' option to deliver clean, safe drinking water," it said.

IBWA also argues the ban will deprive the town of needed tax revenue and harm local businesses that rely on bottled water sales.

Founded in 1958, the trade association's member companies include U.S. and international bottlers, distributors and suppliers.

According to its website, the vast majority of IBWA's 640 members are small, locally owned companies, with 60 percent reporting $2 million in annual gross sales and 90 percent reporting less than $10 million in annual gross sales.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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