The bottled water backlash is alive and well in Ontario and on Monday the City of London demonstrated as much by becoming the latest Canadian municipality to hatch plans to eliminate the popular products.
The London city council has voted to stop the sale of bottled water at all city-run facilities including office buildings, arenas and community centres and possibly even golf courses.
In fairness the restrictions will be phased in over the next few months and will only apply to buildings appropriately equipped with drinking fountains, but the change could have serious implications for cities like Toronto, where movements to oppose bottled water have long been afoot.
The once-trendy treat has come under heavy fire of late, and London joins school boards in Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo and Vancouver in its efforts to restrict the packaged H2O.
At the centre of the matter are concerns relating to the fossil fuels used to produce and transport the plastic bottles, which for their part end up in landfills by the millions. Torontonians alone are estimated to consume 100 million bottles of water each year. Roughly 65 per cent of those are recycled, but the rest – 35 million or so – wind up on the trash heap.
Environmentalists also note that in most Canadian municipalities the tap water is just as good, just as safe, and just a fraction of the cost of the stuff that comes in bottles.
But those in the refreshment industry argue another side, suggesting London’s move to ban bottles of water is a step backwards in the realm of recycling.
“The city had an opportunity to expand recycling outside the home, something other municipal leaders are doing, but instead it ignored the facts and decided to target a healthy consumer choice,” said Justin Sherwood, President of Refreshments Canada.
“This is a move that will cost taxpayers more and do less for the environment.”
Breaking the habit of drinking bottled water could also present a challenge.
Approximately one-third of Canadian households buy the bottles, a trend that could take years to curb.
What you think of the water issue probably has a lot to do with whether you drink it from bottles and how you like the stuff that comes from the tap, but either way the city’s powers-that-be could soon move to make you reach for the latter.
The city’s already released ads encouraging people to choose tap water over bottles and Budget Chief and Councillor Shelley Carroll admitted she’d like to see more people heading for sinks and fountains when they’re thirsty.
“They’re (London) a leader this time and we should catch up with them,” she said.