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San Francisco Works to Curb Bottled Water Waste

San Francisco government officials are banning the use of city money for bottled water, hoping to save financial and environmental resources. A NewsHour report, funded in part by the Park Foundation, explores the move.

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  • SPENCER MICHELS, NewsHour Correspondent:

    When San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newsom, takes tour groups around City Hall these days, he stops to show off a newly installed water cooler dispensing filtered tap water.

    GAVIN NEWSOM, Mayor of San Francisco: Do you want to indulge, since you're part of the bottled water generation? Want me to issue you a glass?

    This is a glass, and that's water without a bottle. All right, now taste that, and let's see how you feel. How does it taste? Unbelievable.


    In June, Newsom decreed that all city departments will no longer be allowed to buy any bottled water. Thirsty city employees will now drink filtered tap water. He calls it an environmental move that will save money.

    The mayor himself used to drink water imported from the South Pacific until the environmental consequences were dramatically pointed out to him by an aide.


    And he brought back a new bottle of Fiji water with a big package or bag of it, of oil surrounding it, and said, "Here's what you're actually consuming." I said, "What are you talking about?" Because that what it costs, the oil to produce the bottle, the distribution costs to get it from Fiji to the United States, this is what you're doing to Planet Earth.


    Newsom claims that 47 million gallons of oil are needed to make the plastic water bottles used in America. Others put the figure much higher. He is leading a move among mayors aimed at reducing or eliminating American consumption of bottled water.

    Americans drank more than 8 billion gallons of bottled water last year with a wholesale value of nearly $11 billion. Per capita consumption for the year was 27.6 gallons, according to the International Bottled Water Association. Joseph Doss is its president.

  • JOSEPH DOSS, International Bottled Water Association:

    Consumers continue to demand bottled water. And the growth rate for bottled water is approximately 9.5 percent last year. We think bottled water is a safe, healthy, convenient beverage that consumers are using to stay hydrated, and I think that any efforts to discourage that are not in the public interest.