Unintended Consequences and Sparkling Water

A few months ago SFO’s plastic water bottle ban went into force. Until this week, with two layovers at SFO, I didn’t think about it too much.

Moving from single-use bottles to refillable bottles is obviously a good thing but for me, it had an ironic outcome. I generally try to drink water instead of soda (those that know me, know me as a Diet Coke addict!), but much prefer sparkling water to still unless I’m running.

It turns out the SFO ban also applies to sparkling water in plastic bottles (logical!). Eventually, I realized that there was sparkling water but it was in glass bottles. Is that really much better for the environment? How do I feel about drinking that and then sending this tiny glass bottle for recycling? Not to mention the carbon required to get it here and back?

The outcome for me was buying a diet coke and giving up! Oops!

Thinking about this, sparkling water is a lot harder to deliver without containers, so I doubt this will change soon. The next ironic twist is that companies like Coca Cola have solved this with devices like the freestyle:

So it’s in theory relatively easy to deliver soda without the bottles… Sadly I suspect that doing this (and getting wide distribution) is going to be much harder for more niche products like Perrier.*

You can still buy flavored sparkling water (in plastic bottles and cans) at SFO it seems, but I didn’t find them. Also, it somehow seems to defeat the purpose of the ban.

What we really need is water fountains with Soda Streams embedded in them, as well as the same bans applying to non-water beverages so delivery really gets creative.

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

(*) Perrier and San Pellegrino are both owned by Nestle, so it’s not like we need to feel sorry for them. It’s just funny how new rules have strange effects at least initially.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.