In response to residents’ desire to reduce the substantial carbon footprint of single-use plastics, last spring Zero Waste Arlington proposed a local bylaw to prohibit the sale of single-use plastic water bottles of 1 liter or less. Town Meeting overwhelmingly supported this bylaw which took effect November 1, 2022.

Since May, we have been hard at work preparing for the implementation of the bylaw, by:

  • proactively offering assistance to the Health and Human Services Department in communicating the bylaw to businesses.
  • producing an informational flyer informing businesses of the bylaw and acceptable alternatives.
  • working with town stakeholders to build a network of bottle refill stations as part of our Arlington on Tap campaign.

What can retailers sell or offer instead?

  • Carbonated, flavored, and vitamin-enriched water. Anything other than plain, still water.
  • Plain water sold in glass or aluminum containers of any size, or in plastic containers over 1 liter in size.
  • Free water dispensers for customers to fill their own reusable bottles – and be featured on our Arlington on Tap map.
  • Refillable water bottles, including branded bottles.

    Box water cartons are not allowed as an alternative to plastic bottles. Why not?

    • These non-recyclable cartons are lined with plastic film as a liquid-proof barrier. The bylaw prohibits containers “made in whole or in part of plastic material, excluding the cap” – so these cartons are also prohibited (except for sizes over 1 liter).

    Bottled water is up to 3,500x worse for the environment than tap water. In the United States alone, annual bottle demand needs 17 million barrels of oil to produce enough plastic.

    The town’s resolute action will make a significant impact in our community and hopefully inspire neighboring towns – and eventually the state – to take similar action.

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