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Town Meeting to Vote on Ban of Sales of Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles
Town Meeting to Vote on Ban of Sales of Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles
Town Meeting to Vote on Ban of Sales of Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles

Published on: 05/23/2024

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Tanvi Sharma 4Bd2P5Zbda Unsplash - Cohasset, MaPhoto by tanvi sharma on Unsplash

May 23, 2024 By Adam Norman, Co-Chair, Cohasset Open Space & Recreation Commission

Members of the Cohasset Open Space & Recreation Committee (OSRC) are proposing a bylaw to ban the commercial sale of single use plastic water bottles in Town. Citizens will vote at the upcoming Annual Town Meeting on June 3. If successful, Cohasset would join 25 other Massachusetts communities, including Hingham, whose bylaw went into effect at the beginning of this year.

OSRC members claim there are many benefits to the bylaw, including: 1) reducing plastic waste, 2) mitigating climate change, and 3) improving the health of Cohasset citizens. OSRC organizes Cohasset’s annual Earth Day cleanup event, during which 10,140 pounds of trash were collected from roadways, beaches, and parks. Single use plastic bottles, including water bottles, are among the most common items of trash collected over the years.

The vast majority of plastic water bottles (85%) end up as waste, often times finding their way to the ocean, posing dangers to marine life. There’s a myth that plastic water bottles are healthier than tap water. The reality is that plastic water bottles take up to 1,000 years to degrade, can leach toxic chemicals, and break down into microplastics. A study from Columbia University released in January found that on average, a liter of bottled water contained about 240,000 tiny pieces of plastic.

Manufactures of plastics water bottles are not required to publish details about their water quality, so there’s easy no way for the public to verify their safety. The Cohasset Water Department constantly tests the Town’s drinking water and test results are available on its website. In its April report, PFAS, or so-called “forever chemicals” were found at 7.82 parts per trillion (ppt), well below the federal EPA limit of 70 ppt and Massachusetts limit of 20 ppt. Cohasset water is clean.

Instead of buying and disposing of single use plastic water bottles, OSRC wants to urge Cohasset citizens to drink water from reusable containers (Hydroflask, Stanley, Nalgene, etc.). Virtually all students and student athletes already carry reusable water containers everywhere they go. Cohasset High and Middle Schools, Deer Hill, and Osgood all have hydration stations for students to refill their reusable water bottles. The Cohasset Community Preservation Committee has approved funding for hydration stations at Barnes Complex and Milliken Fields. OSRC is in the process of applying for grant funding to install additional hydration stations across Town.

A misconception about the bylaw seems to be that banning single use plastic water bottles will deny citizens access to water or harm local businesses that sell water. There are dozens of companies that sell water in aluminum cans or cardboard containers, including local company Everybody Water. Businesses within the other Massachusetts communities which have similar bylaws have adapted and ours will too. Cohasset businesses have been notified of the bylaw through the Chamber of Commerce or in person.

“Won’t banning the sale of single use plastic water bottles push children toward sugary drinks?” That question was asked by a member of the Cohasset Select Board who voted against supporting the bylaw. So OSRC, in conjunction with the Green Teams from Cohasset High and Middle Schools, conducted a student survey. They were asked which beverage they would purchase if a single use plastic water bottle was not available for sale. Only 8 of 79 respondents said they would purchase a soda (34 would buy water in aluminum/cardboard container, 14 would buy a sports drink). And 83.5% of respondents support the bylaw while 93.7% believe it would help reduce plastic waste.

The bylaw has widespread support. OSRC members, with help from the Middle School Green Team, gathered over 300 signatures for the citizen’s petition. The bylaw has been endorsed by Cohasset’s Advisory Board in a 8-0 vote, Cohasset’s Open Space & Recreation Committee, Cohasset Board of Health, Cohasset Conservation Commission, Holly Hill Farm, the Green Team (CMHS), Wild Cohasset, Sustainable Practices, and the Sierra Club of MA.

To give businesses time to work down their existing inventory of plastic water bottles and convert their orders with distributors to alternative packaging, the bylaw would not be scheduled to go into effect until January 1, 2025. OSRC thanks you for your support and hopes to see you at Town meeting for this important vote.

News Source : https://cohassetanchor.com/town-meeting-to-vote-on-ban-of-sales-of-single-use-plastic-water-bottles/

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