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February 26, 2022

The Water Bottle Ban: Coming to a municipality near you

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Not since the era of Free Love and unabashed promiscuity has there been this big of a hate on the use of plastic.

This week, Niagara Falls jumped on the eco-bandwagon and became the 25th municipality in Canada to ban the use of plastic water bottles in its city-owned facilities.

And with about 40-plus other Canadian regions – across six provinces – considering the same ban soon, the message is becoming pretty clear: the plastic water bottle is soon to be kaput.

“Within 5-10 years, you will not see them in Canada,” says Trevor Hess, founder of SkyTrax stainless steel water bottles, one of the leading alternatives to the now seemingly endangered plastic bottle.

Hess has been studying the trends of water bottle consumption for the past six months and says it’s “pointless” to continue using plastic water bottles when only about 30% of them are actually recycled, leaving the other 70% to sit in trash heaps where they take about 700 years to decompose.

Add to that, he says, public water “is tested much more per year than water tested at (private) plants across Canada,” so it’s safer – and way cheaper – to fill up a reusable bottle from a tap.

The controversy about the water bottle ban is only heating up, too. Environmentalists will say phasing out the use of plastic water bottles eases our carbon footprint, forcing less energy to be used recycling them and less fuel to be burned in their delivery and distribution.

They are right.

Consumers, on the other hand, will gripe about losing their choices in the retail market, where the ban at city facilities is likely to flow to bottle prohibitions at school boards and on to variety stores and big box vendors.

They’re also right.

But the most intriguing argument, we think, comes from complaints by Nestle, one of the largest manufacturers of water bottles in Canada, as more municipalities look to outlaw its product.

Gail Cosman, president of Nestle Waters Canada, tells Canada.com that removing the freedom to buy water as an alternative to pops and energy drinks is something society can ill afford to do.

“Those born after 2000 may be the first generation of Canadians who don't outlive their parents,” she says. “They need the continued encouragement of municipalities, our industry and the media if we hope to blunt the advance of obesity and diabetes.”

So where does the debate turn from here? She sounds right, too.

They all sound right.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...