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Concord Town Meeting rejects repeal of plastic water bottle ban

Posted by Leslie Anderson  December 5, 2013 10:25 AM

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An effort to repeal Concord's ban on the sale of plastic water bottles was resoundingly defeated at Town Meeting on Wednesday night.

Resident Jean Hill, who led the initial fight for the ban, said she was “thrilled” by the outcome. “It made me feel so good,” she said. “So many people came and patted me on the back. I really feel at the age of 86 that I’ve really accomplished something.”

Town Moderator Eric Van Loon didn’t even bother taking an official tally because the opposition to the ban was so overwhelming. It appeared that upwards of 80 to 90 percent of the 1,127 voters at town meeting raised their ballots against the repeal measure.

The issue has been bubbling in Concord for several years. In 2010, a town meeting-approved ban, which wasn’t written as a bylaw, was rejected by the state attorney general’s office. In 2011, a new version of the ban narrowly failed at town meeting, by a vote of 265 to 272.

The ban on selling water in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles of one liter or less passed in 2012 by a vote of 403 to 364, and a repeal effort in April failed by a vote of 621 to 687.

Hill said she thought the shift was due to more residents learning about the environmental impact of using petroleum to bottle and ship water. She vowed to next pursue a ban on plastic grocery bags and added, laughing: “If I live that long.”

Michael Benn, the resident behind the repeal effort, told town meeting voters that the ban doesn’t do much to help the environment and causes local merchants and restaurants to lose money. “It is largely a symbolic measure that created a nuisance for the town without providing any real benefit,” he said.

Resident Scott Richardson, speaking against the repeal, said that the ban has had a positive impact, encouraging residents to use refillable bottles for water. “We all care about the world our children will inherit,” he said. “Our bylaw is a solid step to a better future for them.”

Calvin Hennick can be reached at calvinhennick@yahoo.com.

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