The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) issued a detailed report to Congress on the National Park Service (NPS) policy that allows national parks to ban the sale of bottled water. IBWA’s report finds that the NPS bottled water sales ban policy is unwarranted, deprives consumers of access to the healthiest packaged beverage choice and fails to meet its own specific monitoring, review and evaluation requirements.
“IBWA reviewed and analyzed documents released by the NPS, as well as claims made by NPS park units and supporters of the sales ban policy. Our conclusion is that this policy arbitrarily singles out bottled water and cannot be justified,” said Joe Doss, IBWA President and CEO.
The 2011 NPS Policy Memorandum 11-03 allows individual national parks to ban the sale of bottled water in plastic containers. Due to the conflicting and incomplete information about the bottled water sales ban policy released to date, Congress directed the NPS to submit a report on the data it used to justify the sales bans in individual parks, no later than February 16. The NPS did not submit its report before that deadline.
Although the bottled water sales ban policy was ostensibly established to reduce plastic waste left behind by park visitors, people visiting the parks are still allowed to buy other consumer goods that are packaged in plastic, including sodas, sports drinks, teas, milk, beer and wine. All of those products can still be purchased in plastic, glass, cans and cardboard containers—but bottled water in plastic containers is not available.
Health, nutrition, and consumer interest groups, along with Congressional leaders, have expressed grave concerns about the policy banning the sales of bottled water. IBWA’s analysis shows:
** The sales ban policy is inconsistent with other Administration priorities to promote water consumption and encourage healthy hydration and enjoyment of the National Park System.
** No analysis was conducted by the individual parks (as required by the policy) to show that the bottled water sales ban would reduce waste disposal costs or increase recycling.
** There is no evidence that the NPS is tracking the policy’s impacts on waste reduction, recycling, or the public’s health and safety.
** The NPS and policy supporters are using incorrect data or, in some instances, no data to support implementation of the policy.
“This policy ignores the fact that the bottled water industry works hard to provide consumers with healthy hydration and promotes environmentally responsible packaging practices and recycling. Rather than continuing a discriminatory policy, IBWA recommends that Congress and the Administration overturn Policy Memorandum 11-03 as ineffective and not in the public interest. The NPS should then be directed to develop an effective and fair recycling program that uniformly, consistently, and comprehensively addresses the issues of waste disposal and/or littering of all products sold or brought into all the parks,” said Doss.
To view the report, click here.