Is SFO’s water bottle ban working?

Sept 2019

Last month, SFO banned the sale of water bottles in their airport, replacing them with glass bottles or aluminum cans. The airport also provides numerous water bottle filling stations at no cost to the user. They’re extremely efficient and easy to find.

And just to make it clear, plastic water bottles are not banned from entering the airport, they are just no longer sold at SFO. You can still bring your empty plastic water bottle through security, just as you could any reusable container.

However, at the security check points, the trash bin stuffed with empty water bottles has not diminished in the slightest. It is still overflowing with travelers panic-chugging the last remaining sips of Coca Cola tap water (AKA Dasani) or dumping the liquid into a giant bin that I refer to as the airport spittoon, and then toss the empty bottle onto the trash pile, which at best, gets recycled.

Then, that traveler who just dumped the bottled water and tossed the bottle, passes the water refill stand he could’ve otherwise used, walks directly into a Daily News store and buys another bottle for $6.00. On the plane, they might drink half of bottle before being served water in a plastic cup midflight, only to leave the bottle stuffed in the mesh net pocket under his tray table when they land.

Sound familiar? Well, stop it.

At this point, it’s not about cost, it’s pure convenience, which is just laziness. We already know the cost of water bottles is exponentially higher than tap water, you can purchase water bottles are thrift stores if the cost of a reusable bottle is a factor, and on top of that, we already know the dangers routinely drinking from plastic bottles and the millions of microplastic particles it exposes us to.

If you are able to remember to bring a single use plastic water bottle to the airport, why not bring a reusable container instead? If you can remember your keys, wallet, or in this case, your ID/passport and credit cards, you can remember to bring a reusable bottle.


If passengers are unaware that they can refill their bottle in about ten feet beyond the ecuirty check point, why not make them aware? I saw no visible signage or information letting passengers know about the water refill stations prior to the check point, this could raise awareness and prevent unnecessary waste.

Reusing is always better than recycling.

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