Golden Gate, Yosemite mull bucking bottled water

March 27, 2013

For Immediate Release: March 27, 2013

Contact:

Hanna Saltzman, 801-971-8223 (San Francisco)                                             

Mara Schechter, 415-654-5371 (San Francisco)                                       

Judson True, 415-554-7451 (San Francisco

San Francisco announces proposal to limit sale of bottled water on city property

SAN FRANCISCO – Today at events from the Golden Gate to Liberty Bell Center, a broad coalition supported iconic parks in going bottled water-free. On the occasion, San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu announced he is proposing legislation to limit the sale of bottled water on city property.

Mount Rainier also announced it will be installing water bottle filling stations and selling low-cost reusable bottles to reduce bottled water waste. Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), Yosemite, and Independence National Historic Park have also been responsive to public support.

Today the coalition led by Corporate Accountability International, represented by Chiu, world-renowned rock climbers including Alex Honnold and Hans Florine, and the Executive Director of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter, delivered a 3x5 foot postcard to GGNRA’s superintendent featuring the names of more than 2,100 local park-goers and 85 local organizations backing the initiative. More than 40,000 park-goers and 150 organizations and businesses have signed-on nationally.

Such support has been necessitated by Coca-Cola’s, bottler of Dasani brand bottled water, efforts to submarine the Park Service-wide push to go bottled-water free.

“Coke and the bottled water industry are using one national treasure to profit from another at the public’s expense,” said Hanna Saltzman, San Francisco organizer for Corporate Accountability International. “By thinking outside the bottle, Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Yosemite National Park can make clear that water, like our parks, is not for sale.”

San Francisco became the first city in 2007 to phase out city spending on bottled water, paving the way for cities and parks across the country to think outside the bottle. The city continues to take leadership on the issue, as Supervisor Chiu announced he is developing related legislation today.

Supervisor Chiu’s legislation, which will be introduced in the coming weeks, will prohibit the sale of individual bottles of water on city property. Such bottles could not be sold by concessions signing new leases on city property, in city facilities, at large paid-admission events or at large free-admission events when there is a potable source of water available that can be reliably used to meet the hydration needs of attendees. Events at which bottled water is prohibited would still need to provide water to guests, such as at stations connected to the potable plumbing infrastructure.  For health and safety reasons, sporting facilities, sporting events, and races would be exempt from these restrictions.

“Every 27 hours Americans consume enough bottled water to circle the entire equator with plastic bottles stacked end to end. We have to do better,” said David Chiu, President of the San Francisco Borad of Supervisors.  “To advance this crucial policy goal, I am proposing legislation that will reduce the sale of plastic water bottles on San Francisco city property while at the same time increasing access to our healthy, pristine Hetch Hetchy tap water.”

In recent years, Corporate Accountability has helped compel states, cities, universities, businesses, and nearly one in five adults to switch from bottled water to the tap. Its success has saved millions of taxpayer dollars, significantly reduced the industry’s environmental impact, and brought needed attention to the need to reinvest in public water systems long maligned by bottled water industry marketing. (EPA most recently reported that drinking water systems will require an additional $334.8 billion in funding over the next 20 years.)

Bottlers have long seen national parks as a vehicle for greenwashing. From 2007-2012, Coke’s revenue totaled more than $192 billion. Meanwhile, over the same period, Coke paid a modest $2.5 million to the National Park Foundation for exclusive use of park logos in its cause-marketing.

Prior to phasing out bottled water last year, the Grand Canyon found that plastic bottles accounted for 20 percent of its overall waste stream, or more than 500 tons of waste annually.  The NPS Branch Chief of Sustainable Operations and Climate Change estimated that eliminating this waste could save parks as much as 30 percent of its costs for recycling removal.

And bottlers’ interest in the parks is not just about greenwashing, it’s about influence. When Coke discovered Grand Canyon’s plan to phase out bottled water and sell reusable bottles instead, executives used their relationship with the National Park Foundation to water down the NPS Director Jon Jarvis’ national policy on bottled water. Now parks must individually petition regional superintendents and overcome a additional hurdles to go bottled-water free.  

“The public, not Coke executives, should be in the driver’s seat when it comes to park policy,” said Hans Florine, who, together with Alex Honnold, holds the world record for speed climbing El Capitan in Yosemite. “We know park employees at Yosemite, Golden Gate National Recreation Area and across the country are eager to do the right thing here. Today, we’re giving them the support they need to act in the public’s interest.” 

From Zion in Utah to Hawaii Volcanoes, at least 14 parks out of 403 park “units” have already given bottled water the boot. Reusable bottles have proven a lucrative revenue source for some concessionaires, while new hydration stations have ensured visitors remain hydrated even in desert parks like Saguaro in Arizona.

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Corporate Accountability International is a 35-year-old membership organization that protects the environment, public health and human rights from corporate abuse. Its Think Outside the Bottle campaign promotes, protects and ensures public funding for our public water systems and challenges the misleading marketing of the bottled-water industry.

Additional Statements of Support

“Hetch Hetchy tap water is some of the best tasting water in the nation, and it is also one of our city’s most precious assets found readily in our national parks. Let’s bypass the waste and pollution generated by bottling water, and show the rest of the nation how we in San Francisco are saving our environment by making every drop count.”

- San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee

" Preserving functioning ecosystems is at the heart of our work. Our parks — from our great wild national parks like GGNRA and Yosemite to patches of green in the city — are essential for both human welfare and wildlife. Our national parks are governed as public, ecological trusts. They are precious resources that need to operate in a way that supports the health of the eco-systems.

National Parks, created to preserve natural splendor, can lead by example in going bottled-water-free. It sends the wrong message about our national commitment to the tap for parks to sell and promote bottled water .”

- Michelle Myers, Sierra Club Bay Chapter Executive Director

“Bottling and transporting water is a colossal waste of resources that the parks should in no way help promote. If anything, the sales of bottled water fosters a kind of disposable view of the world around us that is anathema to the park's mission to "preserve unimpaired" our wild places. Ending the sale of bottled water inside the parks is an obvious way to educate park users about the impact of their choices.”

- Alex Honnold, world-renowned rock climber and speed climb world record holder for climbing The Nose of Yosemite’s El Capitan

Statements from additional superintendents

“Eliminating the sale of water in disposable packaging within Grand Canyon National Park is in the best interests of both park resources and park visitors. Grand Canyon’s decision to think outside the bottle has helped clear a trail for fellow parks to follow."

- Dave Uberuaga, Superintendent, Grand Canyon National Park

“Saguaro National Park is in the Sonoran desert, where water is a scarce and very precious resource.  We carefully consider the importance of water stewardship, while also making a concerted effort to educate our visitors about the dangers of hiking in the desert without sufficient water.  Eliminating the sale of disposable water bottles and asking our visitors to instead use re-useable bottles and water stations in the park has helped the park reduce its environmental footprint, while still providing our visitors with access to water.  National Parks should lead the way and serve as a role model for environmental sustainability. We are proud to be bottled-water free, and to set a good example for other national parks and businesses."

- Darla Sidles, Superintendent, Saguaro National Park

“At Zion National Park, our decision to go bottled water free was a win-win. It was the right step for the environment eliminating up to 60,000 disposable plastic bottles per year formerly sold in Zion from the waste stream and sending a clear message that water, like our parks, is an essential public resource to protect for today and future generations."

- Jock Whitworth, Superintendent, Zion National Park

“I support the Think Outside the Bottle campaign and commend the campaign’s goal to reduce use of bottled water in our national parks. At Mount Rainier, we’re installing water bottle fill stations to make it easy for visitors to refill water bottles, and are working with our concession partner, Guest Services, Incorporated, to provide low cost, reusable water bottles for sale in the park’s gift shops. After refill stations and low-cost water bottles are in place, we’ll complete the analysis necessary to make a decision on the sale of bottled water in the park.

The National Park Service is committed to being a worldwide leader in sustainability. Reducing, reusing and recycling are all steps in the right direction at Mount Rainier National Park.  We recognize 'reducing' our footprint as the most important of the 3R's.”

- Randy King, Superintendent, Mount Rainier National Park

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