Don't forget your reusable water bottle the next time you fly through San Francisco.

By Betty Gold
August 06, 2019

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) announced late last week that as part of its Zero Waste Concessions Program, it is instating an airport-wide plastic water bottle ban to begin on August 20, 2019. 

According to SFO, plastic water bottles are one of the major sources of waste generated at the airport. Under the new rules, no on-site cafe, restaurant, or vending machine will be allowed to sell them. The airport will also prohibit the sale and distribution of single-use plastic (non-compostable) to-go cups, containers, and cutlery. Soda, juice, and flavored water, however, can still be sold in plastic bottles.

If you'll be flying through San Francisco, be sure to bring your own reusable water bottle. Currently, there are over 100 water fountains throughout the airport where people are able to refill their own bottles. If you forget to BYOB, no sweat: you'll also be able to buy an airport-approved glass, aluminum, or BPI-certified compostable water bottles. 

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According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the single-use plastic ban is part of a larger initiative to reduce energy use and net carbon emissions at SFO, and to eliminate most landfill waste by 2021. However, the change isn't completely voluntary. In 2014, the city of San Francisco passed an ordinance that outlawed single-use water bottle sales on city-owned properties. Because San Francisco Airport is technically a department of the municipal government, SFO is just following instructions by instating the new rule. But because purchasing water is such a common—and necessary—routine for travelers, this is a big deal ban. 

“We’re the first airport that we’re aware of to implement this change,” Doug Yakelm, a spokesman for SFO, told the Chronicle. “We’re on the leading edge for the industry, and we want to push the boundaries of sustainability initiatives.”

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