Australian town, state government ban bottled water

Thu Jul 9, 2009 10:03am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

CANBERRA (Reuters) - An Australian town has banned bottled water, claiming to be the first in the country to revert to the tap for the sake of the environment and prompting the nation's largest state government to stop buying bottled water.

Residents of rural Bundanoon, a picturesque, tourist destination 150 kms (93 miles) southwest of Sydney, voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to rid the town of bottled water to combat the carbon footprint from bottling and transporting it.

Local businesses in the town of 2,500 people have agreed to replace all single-use bottles with reusable bottles that can be filled from water fountains and to bear the loss of sales.

"Bottled water has a role to play in various parts of Australia and many parts of the world but we don't really need it as we have a wonderful municipal water supply," local businessman Huw Kingston, who led the campaign, told Reuters.

"We're not a bunch of raving greenies but this is us showing we can work together as a community for sustainability."

Kingston, who runs a combined cafe and bike shop, said the ban was voluntary, with "no water police in Bundanoon," so it was up to the town's 50 to 60 businesses to implement the change.

He said a catalyst for the campaign was an application by Sydney company Norlex Holdings Pty Ltd to build a local water extraction plant, raising people's awareness of the issue. The application was rejected but an appeal is before the courts.

The campaign has spread beyond Bundanoon, prompting the government of New South Wales (NSW), Australia's most populous state, to also look at ways to cut down on bottled water.   Continued...

<p>A woman picks up bottled water at a store in central Sydney July 9, 2009. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz</p>