Bottled Water Industry Wants to Bring Back Sales In National Parks

The International Bottled Water Association applauded recent action in Congress that could end a ban on the sale of bottled water in America’s national parks. Without the bottled water option, IBWA said, park visitors are more likely to turn to less healthy drinks.

The bottled water industry saw a major victory recently when the House of Representatives made a move that could end a policy banning the sale of disposable water bottles in U.S. national parks.

The 2011 policy adopted by National Park Service allowed national parks to prohibit the sale of bottled water in plastic containers as part of a plan to reduce plastic litter in parks. But, earlier this month, the House passed an amendment to a government appropriations bill prohibiting NPS from using funds to ban the sale of bottled water.

“These bans, whether in national parks or college campuses, are misguided attempts to deal with a waste management issue that would be better addressed through efforts to improve recycling rates of all packaged drinks,” Chris Hogan, vice president of communications at the International Bottled Water Association, said in a statement applauding the action.

IBWA, which represents bottlers, distributors, and suppliers in the bottled water industry, pointed to recent research published in the American Journal of Public Health that found restrictions on the sale of bottled water did not reduce the number of bottles entering the waste stream.

The same study also found that eliminating the sale of bottled water increased the consumption of unhealthy beverage options, such as sugar-sweetened and sugar-free drinks. Tap water isn’t always a good alternative either, according to IBWA, which pointed to additional research finding that 63 percent of people will choose soda or other sugary drinks over water from the tap if bottled water is not available.

“Families who don’t own expensive camping equipment and aren’t experienced hikers and climbers will be surprised to find out that they can’t buy their child a bottle of water at one of our national parks,” Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA), who introduced the amendment, said on the House floor, according to The Washington Post. “Temperatures at the Grand Canyon just this week will top 100 degrees. Visitors who may have forgotten or have run out of water could be put at risk of dehydration.”

National Park advocates, meanwhile, are skeptical of the IBWA campaign.

“There’s no reason for this bill to come out of left field,” David Nimkin, senior regional director for the Southwest for the National Parks Conservation Association, told the Post. He called the NPS policy a “reasonable and appropriate move on the part of the Park Service to help its visitors recognize that water is critically important.”


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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