SFO Bans Sale Of Plastic Water Bottles

Filed Under: Misc.

In general we’re seeing a big push globally towards more environmentally friendly policies, and I’d say that in the US we’re seeing a lot of progress on that front at the moment. It’s an area where the US has long lagged (especially compared to many European countries), though the US is starting to catch up, at least on the state and city level.

There’s now an interesting new airport policy along those lines.

SFO bans sale of plastic water bottle

San Francisco Airport is banning the sale of single-use plastic water bottles as of August 20, 2019. This is the first time we’ve seen a US airport implement a policy like this. This will apply to restaurants, cafes, and vending machines, and the only exclusion will be flavored water, which can continue to be sold in plastic bottles.

That means those passengers wishing to get a bottle of water will either have to bring their own refillable bottle, or buy a refillable aluminum or glass bottle at the airport.

This development is part of a broader plan to cut SFO carbon emissions and energy use to zero by 2021.

This latest move is actually not entirely the airport’s choosing, though. A 2014 ordinance banned the sale of plastic water bottles on all city-owned property, and the airport is obviously part of that, though it’s just now being implemented at the airport.

As of now lots of SFO establishments are still selling plastic water bottles, while others have switched to glass bottles and plastic-free reusable bottles.

The challenge of staying hydrated at airports

It goes without saying that bottled water is incredibly wasteful. But airports are also tricky places in this regard, since you can’t bring your own water. The war on airport liquids has now been expanded in a totally different way.

This actually got me thinking about my own situation. At home I don’t use bottled water, and I just drink filtered water. I also have a reusable bottle, and I take that wherever I go when not traveling.

However, I don’t actually take it with me when I travel. I probably should now that I think about it, but I feel like there are a few reasons I don’t:

  • I often travel to countries where drinking tap water isn’t a safe option
  • I do what I can to minimize the amount of stuff I travel with, and this is yet another thing to bring along
  • I would keep the reusable bottle in my backpack, but I have anxiety that the bottle will somehow open and spill water on my electronics; I’ve lost multiple laptops due to liquid damage

At the same time, I’m not someone who buys bottled water at airports. I almost always have lounge access, so I’ll just drink water from the coolers they have there. But I also recognize that other people don’t have lounge access, and that’s why I totally get why people buy so much bottled water at airports, and how that might be an issue.

Obviously SFO’s policy change is a push towards encouraging people to bring their own bottles. But otherwise I have some questions:

  • Why can establishments sell soda in plastic bottles, but not water? In many cases this will make soda cheaper than water, and may push people towards making less healthy purchases
  • Are there no concerns about all the potential broken glass we’ll see from this policy change?
  • In this specific situation, is the environment impact actually entirely positive? Glass bottles are significantly heavier than plastic bottles, so emissions are greater for transporting the bottles to the airport, and it will also increase fuel burn on planes if a lot of people bring glass bottles

I say all this as someone who is totally anti-plastic, but I do think it’s worth acknowledging the challenges this presents.

If they really wanted to do what’s best for the environment and for passengers, maybe the airport directly should sell reusable bottles pretty close to cost, which would allow people to stay hydrated at a reasonable cost while caring about the environment.

But I’m sure that would also violate the agreements they have with their vendors, many of which make a fortune selling a basic human necessity to passengers. So they want to help the environment, but they also don’t want to give up any revenue.

I’m curious how you guys feel about this — what do you make of SFO’s policy change, and do you travel with a reusable water bottle?

  1. I get the logic but how long is this going to go well? Until someone figures out how to use a broken/damaged glass or aluminum bottle as a weapon. I’m all for recycling and doing things for the environment but this just seems like a not well thought out move.

  2. Ben,
    Stop asking if this is beneficial or not or trying to use logic, this is a feel-good policy. Can’t wait to see all that broken glass everywhere at SFO!

  3. Its a double standard
    Soft drinks which are unhealthy are everywhere in plastic bottles
    Why discriminate against healthy water drinkers?
    recycle and penalize those that don’t recycle
    I am doing a major renovation and buying elegant countertops for my bars
    from a company called 3 Form
    All their countertops are made from recycled plastic beverage bottles and look like glass
    So a somewhat green renovation

  4. If I’m going to board a 15 hour flight and have a tight connection, I want a disposable water bottle, not something I have to lug with me through the airport. Poor decision on San Francisco’s part and if I need to fly to Asia, I’ll actively choose to connect elsewhere.

  5. I’ve been using the Nomader Water Bottle (they sent me a few to do a review on it and I dig it). It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good and it’s far superior than the Baiji Bottle (which I also own). It’s a flimsy waste of silicone.

    I got tired of paying $4.00 for a bottle of water that maybe (maybe!) costs .05 so I started bringing one. I also don’t hydrate that much when I travel (not good), but it saves me all the trips to lav while flying. LOL.

  6. I’m 100% on board with this initiative as I also firmly believe we need to stop this single use plastic madness. But the fact that it’s limited to water and not flavored water it kind of hilarious/sad…

  7. Best news I have heard all YEAR! Nothing worse than those disposable plastic water bottles!

  8. The weight associated with the carriage of individual bottles on an aircraft is insignificant. Consider 1 lb for a 1L borosilicate bottle. For a long-haul flight, the added weight is 300-500 lbs or basically the equivalent of 10 heavy bags.

    I support the move to reduce plastic bottle usage and never purchase water (I own a Kleen Kanteen and use fountains. If needed, I carry iodine tabs). However, this will undoubtedly be a major concern, and cause outrage, for those who have not converted to the ownership of personal refillable bottles.

  9. My problem with filling my own bottle is usually the actual filling. At so many airports, the old water fountains have so little pressure that you have to turn the bottle sideways and are lucky to get it even half full. A few airports have installed fountains with dispensers designed for filling bottles, where you keep the bottle upright and the water dispenses from above, but that still seems the exception and not the rule. (Not sure about SFO in this regard?)

  10. There are lots of non-plastic / non-glass waters now. Boxed water is one that is pretty good, they just need to make larger sizes. But yes I agree that this should extend to all beverages

  11. Based in SFO. They have water refill stations everywhere past security and the water tastes perfectly fine. I always bring my 1L Camelbak regardless of where I go and I find value having the bottle even if I’m going to, let’s say Africa where you’re generally gonna have to buy bottled water. There are numerous occasions where I find water hard to get after a long trip (deplane, get picked up, drive 3 hours to the closest safari lodge, national park, etc.) where filling up my personal water bottle from the plastic plane bottles leaves me with more water to carry with me in a convenient manner (some airlines give out those tiny bottles that you consume quickly, others give the standard sized bottles where it’s more beneficial pouring two of those bottles into one 1L bottle). All it takes is sliding my water bottle in the bottle holder of the backpack — there’s no added inconvenience.

    The only downside in my experience is when you check into an airport and have to go past security — if you have the disposable bottles, you just throw the bottle away. If you have your personal bottles, you drink it all or discretely dump the water into the garbage cans.

  12. My biggest concern is with people contaminating water fountains/dispensers at the airport by touching their germy bottles against the spigot after they have been in contact with their mouths/furry tongues/food matter/kissing/diseases/cigarettes/sinus drainage/saliva/dog licks/fingernails/toilet bacteria… Shall I go on?

  13. I usually avoid plastic water bottles…except for when flying, and especially on long distance routes. I usually have a 1 liter re-usable on me, but that’s not nearly enough water for me on a transcon flight, let alone a transpacific flight — so I usually supplement with an extra bottle at the airport.

    And it’s the oceanic crossings that are always the worst in terms of hydration, especially in economy – where you’re often served perhaps a thimble’s worth of water with a meal, and a single miniature sized bottle before the lights go out.

  14. There are a number of bottled water companies that now sell bottled water in tetrapacks (just take a look at the Just Water bottled water AA currently offers in their Flagship lounges). Can’t the airport retailers just switch to those products?

  15. What they’ve disregarded is that there are immunocompromised passengers for whom drinking from public water dispensers is unsafe.

    This is far worse than the plastic straw issue, because at least you can bring your own straws along.

  16. Once again the religion of environmentalism has succeeded in making life more inconvenient. Forcing religious rituals on non-believers is always popular among the fundies.

  17. I totally agree with this move but I also agree it should extend to all beverages. Probably the decision involves money in some way.

  18. @swag – at SFO they have what you describe where all you have to do is place the water bottle vertically and the sensors will activate the water pouring (the water pressure is excellent as well so they fill up fast).

  19. @grrizzly protecting the environment is not a religion I didn’t realise trump contributed to this forum.

  20. “In this specific situation, is the environment impact actually entirely positive? Glass bottles are significantly heavier than plastic bottles, so emissions are greater for transporting the bottles to the airport, and it will also increase fuel burn on planes if a lot of people bring glass bottles.”

    Just take a reusable plastic bottle instead. Even better is a shaker bottle like people commonly take to the gym – they’re made of very sturdy plastic, pretty leakproof, have a nice big opening at the top so you can dry them out completely between uses, and very light. And if you’re running tight on carry-on space, you can put other things in the bottle when you pack at home and take them out when you’re ready to use the bottle. And if you shop around they’re cheaper than glass or aluminum.

    The ban should be extended to flavored water and soda – soda is readily available in aluminum cans, which are much easier and cheaper to recycle than plastic, and if people want flavored water they can bring flavor packets of their choice through security and mix them with water once airside. I do that all the time, cheap as chips and gives me more choices. For example, you can get the Crush-soda-flavor packets at Dollar Tree or Walmart in a variety of flavors, six packets for a buck (plus tax in some states.)

  21. This is the problem with the war on plastic… people take it to the extremes and cut all plastic instead of finding a happy medium, because cutting plastic isn’t always the best long term solution as it may cause an indirect impact.

  22. Dude – there are water bottles with excellent filters included. You can have gilardia infested pond water and be fine. #21stcentury

  23. For all you non-Californians, tap water here tastes awful. No one is afraid of water fountains, just the crap that comes out of them.

  24. Ben, have a look at the Brita water bottles, they have a small filter built in and a click top, they also don’t empty by gravity you have to suck through the straw so it’s next to impossible to spill. Been travelling with one for the last year and they make a great companion.

  25. Your water bottle has a UV filter 😉 , and didn’t that backpack have a sorta coated-pouch for one?

  26. How many people will buy a “re-usable” bottle post security to fill it up from the bottle fillers and then never use it again? This seems like something that many many people will accidentally leave on the plane or the hotel or have taken away from the when they go through the security theater at a stadium (my empty metal coffee travel mug was taken from me at CitiField. Ridiculous). It’s not greener if it’s not actually re-used a certain number of times. Metal, glass, thicker, re-usable plastic…all require more intensive resources to produce than a flimsy disposable bottle.

    Personally I like to have water on the plane just in case. You never know when there might be an unexpected delay or diversion and sometimes there’s no more water available from the galley. My method is usually to save an empty disposable bottle and bring it to the airport to refill. Then, I don’t mind losing it, it doesn’t need to weigh me down for the whole trip and it is slightly greener than buying two separate bottles.

  27. It’s more nanny state. I don’t buy a lot of bottled water, but when I do, I do not fret about it. Even if I were on board with avoiding plastic bottles, Lucky is right. When traveling, many people minimize what they carry – “travel light” – and carrying any reasonable size bottle is an inconvenience. And I am not troubled by prioritizing convenience. If we were talking about dumping literal toxins in drinking water, I would be all for bans, but I think the convenience of travelers is more critical at an airport than environmental extremism. Hopefully, this type of thing remains limited to SFO, OAK, PDX and similar cities.

  28. I agree with the many comments about boxed water being a great alternative that should be mixed in with aluminum and glass options. I also think SFO could easily get passengers to vote with their dollar on options if they had a period where they simply required plastic bottles to be sold at a significantly higher price than other options. What I find funny in this country is that so many airports sell Dasani or Aquafina, which is often from questionable city water sources in its pre-treated form. So at airports in cities with good water quality, using a Brita filter bottle might actually lead to higher quality water than Dasani or Aquafina.

  29. Liberal policies.

    Dumb AOC has invaded SFO.

    Ideas like this that bankrupt CA. To this day I still can’t understand the benefit of prop 65 besides for blackmailing companies.

    How many people actually travel with their own aluminum water bottles.

  30. Lots of great points in this thread.

    Admirals clubs seem to only have boxed water now. Smart alternative.

    And the germ thing. I’m no germaphobe, but it’s common sense. Having just gotten off a cruise, one of the big no-nos is filling your water bottle at the various water stations around the ship. Airports would present a very similar problem, maybe even worse.

  31. Silly. Made me kind of happy that I’ve moved from SFO and I really hope that other airports wont follow. Terrible.

  32. SFO is 13 miles south of SF City/County. The city bought the land in 1930, but it’s located completely within San Mateo county. Question – is this plastic bottle sales ban (water) a SF city ordinance that SFO must following? Does SF have jurisdiction? Is SFO an exclave entirely bound by SF city/county laws? Or has it independently decided to follow SF’s lead as policy?

  33. @grrizzly

    Most definitely agree. Wouldn’t San Francisco be better off banning plastic needles?

  34. Bottled water is ridiculous, think of all the energy we waste carting something that is so ubiquitous around the world. It’s easy enough to bring a bottle (and coffee cup and lunch container)

  35. There are plenty of box water options out there. Since we all know plastic is bad for environment, I whole hearted agree with SFO for eliminating plastic bottle. Time for airport store switch to box water. SFO should also eliminate all plastic soda bottles.

  36. @Eskimo @ Lukas AGREED 100%!

    Meanwhile, not a word about all the junk mail being sent out across the USA. You want to discuss waste and the environment…

    SFO and their streets of Poo and Needles.

    Banning plastic bags, yet they will still ‘sell you the bags’

    The logic is comical, many articles regarding this explaining the lunacy, yet I won’t bother posting a link with respect to Lucky and his site.

    I’m sorry so many are not open to the truth.

    Happy Weekend to all! Even the haters 🙂

  37. Having just flown recently through SFO again on way back to
    Germany, spent a day downtown by Fisherman’s Wharf. Although article is about SFO, city needs to do something about the human excrement, urine and homeless. I guess all that is bio-degradable? Priorities people. Was such a beautiful city not long ago. Back on topic…WRT to Europe as mentioned at the beginning of the article, many businesses in FRA use recycled bottles and charge a deposit, e.g. in Germany called pfand. Germany is much more cleaner. Oh and only water? SMH.

  38. I can’t believe anyone is against this. There are water spigots everywhere at SFO — I don’t expect people will actually buy a bunch of glass bottles, nor do I think the majority of those who do are going to drop and break them. And as a local, the tap water is great in the Bay Area. I seriously doubt “Donna” actually lives here.

    Also, reminder that until 20-ish years ago, no one ever bought bottles of water, and we were all fine. (Just like no one brought their pets on planes.) My family members always bring their own bottles; I neither bring nor buy — people waaaay overstress about staying hydrated. The human body does a pretty good job of maintaining equilibrium.

  39. @Eskimo,

    I travel with an aluminum water bottle all the time. Hardly weighs anything when empty. Fill it with water post security and I don’t have shell out $5 for a bottle of water.

  40. So will the airlines be banned from bringing bottled water onboard? Will DL no longer fill from Dasani bottles?

  41. Maybe start banning plastic water bottles somewhere where they don’t steal your f-ing water on the way in? I carry refillable water bottles everywhere, and I had to stop bringing them to nightclubs and airports. The poorly trained “security” staff delights in stealing your fancy $20 refillable bottles, empty or not. Now you can’t get another bottle.

    Right after that, you get on a plane for 12 hours where they suck the moisture out of the air and hand out thimbles of water, and going to the bathroom is a pain.

    But the best part is you can still buy drinks in plastic bottles as long as they have caffeine, sugar, and artificial color.

  42. At least SFO have lots of places you can fill your own water bottle easily after security. I have a “Vapor collapsible water bottle” that I use for travel that is very sturdy and I’d highly recommend. It was a great investment, takes up little to no space when empty and ways only an ounce or so … https://smile.amazon.com/Vapur-Eclipse-Foldable-Flexible-Carabiner/dp/B00BI9AM1Y/ref=sr_1_3?crid=395NCEGDRY6PC&keywords=vapur+water+bottles&qid=1564780190&s=gateway&sprefix=vapur+%2Caps%2C438&sr=8-3

  43. I am for helping our environment and mother Earth! At the end of the day, we only have ONE planet to live on!

    At the same time, we must educate the rest of the world and not only suffocate the people in US!

  44. Once again a good idea might have negative impacts in other areas.
    Be a good environmentalist if you want but quit forcing your beliefs on the rest of us

  45. Most of the USA population do not pollute and throw trash everywhere. I watch kids and parents in airports walk to find a trash bin for their waste. There is very little trash on the floors.

    The plastic in the oceans is mostly from Asia, so SFO banning plastic water bottles is just a typical libtard ‘feel-good’ thing

  46. Once again, ordinary people get screwed by egotistical Liberal politicians who can’t help themselves unless they control everybody else’s lives.

    Reusable bottles are actually worse for the environment since most people don’t use then enough to offset the higher environmental cost compared to plastic.

  47. Dublin Airport have had their own “Plane Water” branded bottled water where you put €1 into an honesty box and take a bottle system for ages now. A while back they installed filtered taps to refill any bottles you have with. The last time I flew through I saw they were trialing some plastic free alternates so they had cans (tins) of water with resealable tops and glass bottles as well I think.

  48. SO much angst and fear… I realize facts and experience are not super persuasive to those who’ve already decided this is the end of the world, but for the open-minded remaining:

    Just like spending your hard-earned miles on catalog merchandise is a stupid waste, relying on purchased single-use plastic bottles is just brain-dead.

    I fly far less than Lucky, ONLY half a million miles the past five years. I always bring a light steel contigo thermos. It has never been confiscated at any of scores of security checkpoints, US and abroad. It has occasionally extended my lounge beverage experience to the next flight in economy. It has hydrated me through many a red-eye and post-flight transit.

    I’m in complete control of how clean it is – unlike the coffee mugs y’all accept without question from kitchens unseen. It keeps my coffee warm for a couple of hours instead of 15 minutes. It keeps my cocktail cold for a couple of hours, and the ice melts very slowly. It never closes at midnight, unlike some airport beverage vendors. It doesn’t require exact change – or any change. It weighs less than an extra power cord when empty. It attaches easily to a belt loop with a carabiner or a paper clip.

    Embrace your fear and try a new life hack. Or not! But whining about being forced – in one airport – to stop doing something that is wasteful, expensive and impractical, especially at scale, is simply mock-worthy.

  49. @shza – Native born Californian not a transplant. And just because you and your people find the water fabulous, doesn’t mean everyone shares your opinion. Everyone I know drinks bottled water here.

  50. Just another lame policy by a ridiculous city government that can’t govern and makes everything absurdly complicated for its taxpayers and visitors. But if you’re a homeless drug addict feel free to plop down your tent anywhere, smash bottles on the sidewalk, and pee and poop all over the sidewalk (yes you see this on a daily basis).

    And by the way most of your plastic recycling goes to landfills: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/21/us-plastic-recycling-landfills

    And I say the above as a normal liberal, not an ultra ultra Maoist-leaning liberal.

  51. Seems a bit of an excuse for certain people to pat themselves on the back about how “green” they are without actually thinking about their actions.

    Replacing plastic bottles with boxed water means replacing a plastic bottle with a cardboard box with layers of plastic and aluminum inside, which is complicated to recycle and also clearly doesn’t remove plastic packaging. Not a great alternative.

    Aluminium cans are easily recyclable but if they are put in landfill, that’s a colossal amount of embedded energy being disposed of.

    Plus as others have mentioned, why just water and not other drinks?

    All that being said people should bring refillable bottles and perhaps someone enterprising could even sell refills of mineral water for those who use refillable bottles… (or has someone already thought of that?!)

  52. Easy solution, buy a napkin for the same cost of 3.99 that a bottle of water cost before, receive a “free” bottle of water….. Leave it to SF to go above and beyond crazy

  53. When I travel in countries where you can’t drink the water, I either use my water filter or buy large containers and decant into a smaller bottle when needed.

    And while I agree the same rule should apply to other drinks, the obvious reason it’s only being applied to water is that there are free water dispensers all over the place. I’ve yet to see an airport with free soda dispensers anywhere – it’s therefore a much bigger inconvenience.

    And finally, if you GENUINELY cannot figure out a way to get safe access to water if it’s not in a disposable plastic bottle (I emphasise genuinely as I’m sure most of you actually can, and what you actually mean is “it’s less convenient”), you probably shouldn’t be traveling without supervision anyway.

  54. It’s impressive how many people actually give a damn about this perfectly reasonable pro-environment policy. For those saying you’ll use different airports, please do. For those questioning whether SFO falls within SF County or San Mateo county, keep on investigating. For those criticizing this policy but commenting on SF’s homeless population, more power to you (and have you checked the city you live in too? Will you fly out of JFK, EWR, SEA, LAX, IAH, BOS, EWR, or else (i.e., all major metropolitan areas with a homeless population that we are failing, as a society, to help and protect)?) For those who think people will break glass or harm others with bottles, keep on being a pessimist (also, has that happened yet? Last time I checked, people are already bringing these types of canteens to the airport…).

    This is a step in the right direction. I acknowledge it should go further, such as banning sodas or flavored water. Truthfully I would prefer to eliminate all plastic. End stop.

    And of course people will whine about this. People whine about everything these days (i’m guilty of this too. Why do people walk slowly on the sidewalk? Why can’t I dry my hands with paper towels instead of an air dryer in public bathrooms?). But at least SFO (and SF more generally) is taking a step (albeit a small step) in the right direction on an issue that needs attention (among other issues).

    I bring a Hydroflask water bottle each time I travel, regardless of what airport I fly in or out of. So, for those who already bring reusable water bottles, I bow down to you.

    And to all others, get a grip.

  55. The attitude of should this happen vs. how can we make this work is concerning. We’re at a tipping point environmentaly. Solution focused please!
    To start they sell water in boxes. Recycled bamboo – compostable sustainable

    Continuing mass use of plastic is not viable – especially for disposable items
    -us recycling is a tragic comedy – the lack of efficiency outdated technology and hazardous disposal is criminal

    -as noted above filtration technology has exploded

    Attitude and culture need to mature far faster than currently displaying

    Get on board – maybe next year they can get rid of all the plastic bottles. They even sell wine in cans and boxes

  56. This is so anti-flyer.

    I am very green. I don’t buy bottled water EXCEPT when traveling. I don’t want to buy bottle Coke or Pepsi.

    San Francisco should go all out green. Police should be forced to ride camels and horses and not use cars. Cars pollute. Cars are bad.

    Meat is bad. Cows eat a lot of stuff and pass gas. Meat should be banned. San Francisco should only allow cabbage and broccoli.

  57. @PlowJockey I used to carry those until the brain-dead “security” started stealing them. Now I buy the disposable plastic ones and re-use those. That’s right, normal, cheap, shitty plastic bottles are good for another 10 uses at least.

  58. For me, water in a box, like in the AC/FL, tastes like crap.

    SFO can do what they want and flyers will adapt.

    I do not believe this will have any positive effect on the environment. Had they banned all plastic beverages – soda’s in particular – maybe. Now you are just pushing people to buy a soft drink in a plastic bottle.

  59. Good grief! Yet another “self-congratulatory feel good” so-called environmental move that will result in *very* little impact or improvement on the overall environment from a *systems* perspective!

    Case in point — everyone is excited about all-electric cars, such as Teslas, but who realizes that producing only *one* Tesla car battery consumes/emits as much carbon/CO2 as driving a huge V-8 SUV around for 8 years straight? Or what about the increased electricity usages to charge those electric car batteries causing legacy electric power generating plants to burn more coal to keep up with the increased electricity demands? No one looks behind-the-scenes to understand the actual implications behind such up-front actions to ban/convert things and thus create all sorts of unintended consequences!

    Another case in point — when SF first banned usages of plastic grocery bags in grocery stores, everyone gravitated towards re-usable fiber-based carrying bags … back then the public didn’t realize that they needed to pack meats and vegetables separately into those carrying bags, and their co-mingling of those within the same bag inadvertently sent lots of people to hospital ERs due to bacterial infections from meats touching the vegetables! Even more unintended consequences …

    About this case — I wonder how much more energy gets used and carbon footprints get generated with making glass/metallic bottles than plastic ones? Of course public safety issues with broken glass bottles are always a persistent problem!

    If necessary, I personally just bring empty *plastic* bottles for re-use from sources outside of SFO when I fly, anyway! I can then fill those with available drinks from the VIP lounges before I board my flights … just pay attention to sanitizing them properly (as always) between uses!

  60. It’s not really about safety, but when traveling in the US I don’t even drink from soda guns. The water in most states taste like a swimming pool with its high chlorine. I have to drink gin soda/Perrier/Pelegrino instead of gin tonic due to poor water quality/treatment. Wouldn’t touch tap water over there.

  61. I am glad to see this and hope many cities follow. I researched what to take when traveling in Asia and then traveled for months at a time with the very handy, light (and tiny when empty) “Vapur Eclipse BPA Free Durable Foldable Flexible Water Bottle with Carabiner”.
    When traveling where I don’t trust the water or if it has a strong chlorine taste, I use the wonderful combined filter and bottle: GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier [+ Filter] Bottle and I take along an extra filter for long trips (months).
    Bought both at Amazon.

  62. It’s not just about plastic bottles, it’s about free choice that is being taken away from some of us. You want to bring your reusable water bottle everywhere with you – that’s your choice. My choice is to buy a single use water bottle – why is it taken from me?
    And as far as environment goes, why not devote your energy into removing human waste and needles (no doubt – reusable) from the streets of SF. I believe it’s more dangerous for environment than plastic bottles.
    Good, responsible actions in life should be taken by people’s own choice and free will, not imposed by the government

  63. I can’t wait too see somebody do a water quality study of SFO tap water. If the results are anywhere near abnormal, this policy is toast.

  64. I don’t feel strongly one way or another about this particular ban, but I am worried that it might be a dangerous slope: today it’s your plastic water bottle that is banned because it’s deemed a danger to the environment; tomorrow it might be my disposable coffee cup; the day after tomorrow it might be other people’s laptops or what not. Not a good idea to start banning things instead of educating people and rewarding them for good choices. In my home town you get 10 cents back (either off your total or donated to local charity) when you bring your own reusable bag to Whole Foods. Almost everybody brings their bags there. Voluntarily. Not because 10 cents is such a big deal but because positive reinforcement works. Bans rarely work. And as I said – it’s a dangerous slope when they start banning things. We like bans for the things we don’t like, but a day might come when something we like gets banned. Dangerous slope.

  65. Tree huggers out there, we all know the root cause of everything is humans.

    I beg you please don’t come to realization and start mass shooting humans to save the environment.

    At least I feel lucky that I believe most liberal tree huggers doesn’t misinterpreted the 2nd amendment as a right to own guns.

    I also suggested you go hug trees the next time a forest fire burns in CA. Fight for the tree, defend the tree from fire. I only see brave firefighters risk their lives not people on the internet.

  66. Aluminum does leach. As for this whole issue, how many of you that think its a good idea the state to ban plastic bottles would be upset if they banned something near and dear to you? Again if you are worried about mother earth work on minimizing your own footprint then come lecture the rest of us.

  67. Proud to see my home airport lead the way in the US! I don’t think I know anyone who actually purchases drinking water these days.

  68. The flavored water exception also discriminates against people who drink sparkling water/seltzer/club soda, a healthy alternative to HFCS drinks.

  69. Yet sugar drinks will be sold in plastic, along with countless other beverages.

    Sure, the elimination of plastic is good. But perhaps a better thought plan is in order as to the fairness and process in relation to the other sugary drinks still being offered and a proper solution to people hydrating when going or coming from a long flight. I, for one, am not using a filthy airport water station that people cough on…sorry.

  70. “This development is part of a broader plan to cut SFO carbon emissions and energy use to zero by 2021”.

    Really…cut carbon emissions to zero in just 2+ years?

    I sure hope that the left-coast lefties give the airplanes an exception.

  71. If it were not for the dumb (US Driven) war on liquids, this would not be anything as big a deal. This stupid rule will never be repealed as there is too much revenue in it for the airports. Sad.

  72. Oh how so many people have forgotten that California has earthquakes. Even after recent reminders. To all the anti plastic bottle people, what exactly do you plan on doing when the next earthquake hits and either there’s no water or its not drinkable? Been a bottle water drinker since the Northridge earthquake.

    Should live through post earthquake of no running water for days and then months until the water is drinkable again and then cry about plastic bottles being evil.

    And NO you can’t just stack bottled water in your garage for years without rotating them out.

  73. I almost choked in reading some of these comments such as @David-most of the plastic in the ocean is from Asia and the perfect Americans scurrying around tossing their trash. Others that can’t stand the thought is “eco-friendly” are forcing our values on them. At some point Americans need to realize the cost to begin correcting the negative ways will be much cheaper than the cost to not. Yes all this is somehow related to scientific findings, we all know that their is a large portion of Republicans that don’t believe in science (sure God spent 7 days building this Earth), but the US is so far behind much of the world in making change regarding the environment. In some respects the US is third world.

    (Yes I am one of those Americans that did leave for Europe when that pig was elected. I sit and watch the destruction of a once great country. I don’t laugh, I am sad at seeing it lose credibility in the world. )

  74. Ovy an d Eskimo you get it…totally nutty left wing SFO who wants to travel thru SFO with an aluminum, or other bottle crazy.. nanny snowflake state The pooper scooper team has to use plastic to pick up and dispose of the human waste???? that is ok i guess// as they keep throwing lots of $$$$ at this craziness.There are sooo many real isssues in Calif.. like unaffordable housing and living overhead..but they still keep raising TAXES… NUTS

  75. This is great, why not use your own bottle and refill it?, the UK is installing bottle filling stations all over the place. The website wateratairports.com is trying to list airports world wide that have water fountains, most airports refuse to answer requests for information about. The profits from selling bottled water must be worth a lot so well done to SFO for being the first we have heard of.

  76. I feel exactly the same as you Lucky. I guess commercial agreements with the soda companies far outreach any environmental initiatives.

  77. Singapore Changi airport has drinking water fountains all over the place. That is the way to go.

  78. West Coast pointless virtue signalling.

    It takes more water to make sodas and soft drinks, than it does to bottle water. Plus even on a 3 hour flight your body uses up the equivalent of a litre of water. This could be a dangerous as well as very stupid policy.

  79. This is yet another dumb thing from the left coast.

    And yes, pollution is from Asia and the Far East but lets us not forget that Carnival Corp, Royal Carribean and others are routinely fined for throwing garbage I the ocean. Why doesn’t The left coast ban all cruise lies from entering left ports of call?

    I think the left wingers in SFO should focus on the homeless going to the bathroom on the streets and setting up tents I n from of expensive restaurants.

  80. From the post:

    This is part of the plan to cut energy use to zero by 2021.

    The only way to meet that goal is to close the airport completely. Shutting the airport down will make the water bottle story moot.

  81. This will be a good opportunity for water delivery companies like deer park, Nestle and crystal to setup filling stations at the airports – maybe for free – and advertised their products as the same time. Just how Samsung does on free recharging stations!!

  82. All the points above are correct including that the only real environmental impact is plastic in the ocean (which is awful) yet most people aren’t chucking plastic bottles in the ocean. As long as people throw away their plastic in the trash there is no risk.

    One thing many don’t realize is that some don’t drink tap water. The source may be good (although fluoridation ruins that aspect) but the pipes it travels through may not be. Some water mains are 100 years old. Some buildings have galvanized steel pipes. Even relatively new pipes have sediment build up and electrolysis can cause corrosion within the pipe. For large apartment buildings, water towers that accumulate cold water before you receive it is also a concern. Water fountain spigots literally have hundreds of people a day contaminating it.

    I drink spring water that I know will be consistent and have have a mineral profile that I am happy with. I know that in Paris, Buenos Aires, Morocco, Japan or the U.S. Evian tastes the same and is great quality water.

  83. Who really wants to carry multiple water bottles with them when traveling?? For cross country or intl flights (which are the ones I am most likely to take from SFO) I typically buy several bottles of water. This is just so ridiculous.

  84. In the city where homeless people control the place and take a dump on the stinky streets in daylight, where people smoke crack and inject drugs on themselves on daylight (nobody told me this, I saw it in person many times(, the plastic water bottle is the problem. What a BS place that San Francisco has become. I avoid it like the plague.

  85. So Republican of all of you conflating the homeless and drug issues with saving the planet. Just admit it, you hate liberal cities and science. Pathetic.

  86. @Mary-you just said you carry multiple water bottles around with you. You do understand you can get large multi-use bottles, right? SMFH

  87. @Jack Hudson-can you come up with any other silly arguments? Just say “I don’t like the idea”.

  88. @Hate Republicans

    I don’t hate anyone, and I don’t consider myself a Republican or Democrat obviously.

    Please list one city run by Democrats that is thriving and doing exceptional.

    Trump called out Cummings district because it’s in dire need of help, given the billions towards his city, and there is no accountability where the money was spent. The Blacks are furious and want answers, yet mainstream media won’t report factual news. If you ever want facts you may visit
    The Conservative Treehouse for real news.

    Or blacksfortrump.com, Candace Owens, and many others.

    Did you get a chance to see the link?


    I’ll never understand the rage, hate, violence, intolerance and name calling towards President Trump and his supporters; while labeling us as racist, fascist, evil scum, that so many of you believe us to be.

    Don’t forget that many who support Trump are removed from social media yet the Anti Trumpers celebrate the silencing.

    You also believe freedom of speech should not exist, unless of course it’s in line with what you think.

    As I said a bit upthread; HAPPY WEEKEND TO ALL!

  89. @Dennis — “I guess commercial agreements with the soda companies far outreach any environmental initiatives.”

    Uh … those “agreements” are typically vendor *contracts* that are *legally* binding, so maybe it’s *not* so easy to just “ditch” them out of “convenience” to push some silly Progressive feel-good agenda?

    Want to also take on the ocean plastics pollution issue? Here are some FACTS —

    #1. There are some 10-30 BILLION pounds of plastic waste floating in our oceans
    #2. The majority of these originated from merely 5 countries — China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

    Notice that NONE of these top 5 countries are outside of Asia (and mostly SE Asia)! So if we are REALLY serious about wanting to STOP this CRIME against Earth across our oceans, then we MUST get these 5 countries to DO THEIR PARTS by NOT chucking their plastic wastes into our once-pristine oceans!

    Such countries have now so contaminated our oceans that recent studies have indicated that EVERY part of our world’s oceans now harbor micro-plastic particles that get into our ocean food chains and subsequently get ingested as seafood by humans worldwide! And these micro-plastic particles can ultimately cause cancer in humans! So this catastrophe in our oceans MUST be resolved, but on a truly GLOBAL scale and NOT merely through inadequate LOCAL efforts that, more often than not, only create more unintended consequences for those who are disabled or suffer from various ailments that REQUIRE use of plastic products in order to survive (eg, using plastic straws in order to be able to drink)!

    While USA’s “environmentalists” (and so many other Progressives with their myriads of movements) have the “best of intentions,” their methods of engaging such problems are always too naive and impractical! Simple arithmetic reveals that, even if the rest of the world were to TOTALLY ELIMINATE their plastics usage (NOT all of which ends up as ocean pollution), the MAJORITY of the world’s ocean plastics pollution will STILL occur!

    So our lemming moron politicians can go on and on and on about being “environmentally” responsible (which is noble and good), but they have NO clues about HOW to REALLY address such global catastrophes! Banning plastic straws and other plastic containers will do NOTHING to reduce the HUGE amounts of plastics pollution that currently CURSE our oceans! We’re currently merely being penny wise and pound foolish in our idiotic approaches towards trying to resolve these issues!

  90. @Hate Uneducated Republicans — “So Republican of all of you conflating the homeless and drug issues with saving the planet. Just admit it, you hate liberal cities and science. Pathetic.”

    So please enlighten all of us about WHY the “homeless and drug issues” are NOT relevant towards “saving the planet”? Do YOU understand ANY science at all about public health and sanitation? Do you understand that in LA, with its rampant homeless camps, we’re now seeing the resurgence of Medieval diseases that HAD been eradicated long ago? Do you understand that LA is now experiencing outbreaks of medieval diseases such as typhoid and potentially even bubonic plague? What do you think will happen to this world when such medieval diseases cause a new round of pandemics in today’s world? Do you think that our medical establishments are prepared to handle such pandemic outbreaks, even though we DO now have the antibiotics to (purportedly) treat these diseases UNTIL these become drug-resistant (at which point we’re ALL totally screwed)?

    As for your implied “saving the planet” reference — read my latest post above about the catastrophe that is currently cursing our once-pristine and precious oceans!

  91. Water purification tablets and small filters. When travelling to places like India I always pack those first.

  92. What a bunch of crap! It would be one thing if people could bring liquids with them, but people aren’t allowed to bring water with them in any type of container.

    As others have mentioned, this is a completely useless and pointless ruling as everything else BUT water is allowed to use the same containers. Going by numbers from hotels & theme parks — people consume more sodas and other drinks in far greater amounts than water.

  93. @Noah Bowie: Purification tablets & most small filters can’t remove industrial chemicals, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals from water…you know, the things you’re likely to encounter in US water sources, such as SFO’s.

  94. I’m all for refillable, but I’m not going to bring it with me on a trip. I have enough things to keep track of. If this wasn’t a feel good effort and nothing more, the real answer would be to implement a 10 cents tax on anything sold in a plastic bottle.

    One more reason to pass through LAX on my way to Asia. I don’t care about the water bottles in an of itself, but I don’t want to reward SFO for their wacky environmentalism when they have feces and needles all through the city. Their morals and ethics are out of wack……

  95. @Seattle Eric

    SFO is run by the City and County of San Francisco even though it’s physically in San Mateo County. The SFPD patrols the airport. So, the airport is subjected to whims of the SFBOS.

    Also, boxed water will be banned because there is a layer of plastic on the inside of the cardboard.

  96. “Why can establishments sell soda in plastic bottles, but not water? In many cases this will make soda cheaper than water, and may push people towards making less healthy purchases”

    I completely agree with you for is the Plastic we find in Dolphin or Whale’s stomack only from Water plastic bottles and not from Soda plastic bottles too ?
    Ban all plastic ,that’s all .

  97. Why not just encourage people to recycle the plastic bottle, then everyone wins. Why go to such extremes? I’m an American living in Europe and they recycle almost everything.

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