Could Tampa Bay ban plastic bottles? - WFLA News Channel 8

Could Tampa Bay ban plastic bottles?

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The Town of Concord, Massachusetts is best known for its famous Revolutionary War History and with the writings of Henry David Thoreau immortalized its landscape. But today, it's famous for its banning of single-use water bottles in size 16 ounces or less, punishable by a $50 fine.

It's a controversial move, placed into law thanks to the successful lobbying efforts of an environmental group last April, citing environmental and health concerns.

The move has some celebrating the environmental victory, but others worried that similar bans will be imposed in other parts of the country.

Tampa Bay's Dr. Christian Wells, an anthropologist and sustainability expert at the University of South Florida, says the critics agree: plastic bottles fill up landfills and litter waterways.

In the United States, nearly one billion bottles are thrown away each year. That is a large number, Wells says, if you consider the population of just 312 million Americans. He adds that a Boston University study suggests only 30% of bottles are recycled. Then, he adds, there are the medical impacts.

"Critics also point out health consequences, public health, community health consequences of drinking water from bottles that contain phthalate and bisphenol a and other kinds of carcinogens or potential carcinogens.

But Roy Brostrand, a franchisor of Atlanta-based Champion Cheese Steaks says heath is why water bottles are one of the biggest sellers from his fleet of mobile lunch trucks.

"People buy water and they like it in plastic bottles because they feel it's a safer product to store water in."

Some, like Barbara Klaus, a Tampa Bay resident from Germany said this government bans like that are one of the reasons they left Europe.

"We come here because it's a free country. everything is much easier. not so much bureaucracy."

So could a ban like this happen in Tampa?

Mayor Bob Buckhorn (D) says not on his watch.

"That's sort of government getting into people's lives in a more intrusive way than I would imagine. I think we can do a better job educating people with what to do with it when they're done."

Many share Tampa resident Elisa Tabach philosophy. She says she's pro-environment, but still opts at times for the disposable bottles due to the convenience.

"I see the environmental impacts of using single-use plastic bottles, but today at lunch, the only option was a disposable bottle. That's what they had. That's what they gave me. So that's what I took."

All too commonly, these single-use bottles -- only made popular in the 1990s -- end up in landfills and most visibly and damaging, in waterways, where they can collect in the tens of thousands, taking over a millennia to disintegrate.

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