Australian Town Bans Bottled Water
Bonnie Malkin in Sydney
July 8, 2009
Bundanoon, located in the picturesque Southern Highlands of New South Wales and boasts a population of just 2,000, voted by a huge majority in favour of the move with a show of hands at a public meeting.
Huw Kingston, a local businessman and organiser, said almost 400 people turned up to the Bundanoon Memorial Hall, with only two casting dissenting votes.
"It was the biggest ever turnout in the community here at Bundanoon – it's overwhelming support,'' he said. "We can now continue with our route of making Bundanoon Australia's first bottled water-free town.
"We can go forward with the strength of the community and the businesses right behind us.''
Shops in the town will now be banned from stocking and selling bottled water and filtered water fountains will be placed on Bundanoon's main street so people can fill their bottles for free. Visitors to the town will also be discouraged, but not banned, from drinking bottled water.
Locals decided to act when drinks company Norlex Holdings announced plans to tap an underground reservoir in the town, truck the water up to Sydney and then send it back in bottles.
Mr Dee, whose Do Something group was instrumental in a plastic bags ban in Coles Bay, Tasmania, said he hoped the ban would make people all over the country think twice about buying bottled water.
"It's possible it will extend to other places. The main idea is to get people thinking about their usage of bottled water – we're spending about half a billion dollars on it here in Australia," he said.
Retailers in Bundanoon have already agreed to stop stocking bottled water, despite the fall in profits that accompanies the move.
Activists say bottling water causes unnecessary use of plastics and fuel for transport. A New South Wales study found that in 2006, the industry was responsible for releasing 60,000 tonnes of gases blamed for global warming.
Since the announcement that the town was serious about giving up bottled water, the New South Wales state government has jumped on the bandwagon, ordering all state government departments and agencies to use water from the tap instead of buying bottles.
Nathan Rees, the NSW premier, said the government should lead by example.
"We're asking government departments to phase it out unless there is obvious and practical commonsense reasons not to in the event someone doesn't have cool water in a hot environment," he said.