Activists To Airport: Phase Out Plastic Water Bottles

Sep 12, 2019

There’s a local effort underway to phase out plastic water bottles at Albany International Airport.

Monday night, a majority of Albany County Legislators — 22 of 39 — signed-on to a proclamation asking the airport to switch to reusable water bottles, phase-out sales of single use plastic water bottles and install additional public water filling stations and drinking fountains.   "We have a plastic crisis in the world right now, you can see it in the oceans, you can see it everywhere," said Legislator Doug Bullock, a Democrat who represents the 7th District. Bullock says such a policy, similar to one put in place at the San Francisco International Airport in August, would benefit thirsty travelers while reducing plastic waste.   "The airport has been very good in terms of renewables. They've just installed solar on their new parking building. They're gonna install a solar canopy in their parking lot. Their electric bill every month runs over $160,000 so this is gonna save them money. This is a way in the water bottles too to save people money. Because when you're buying plastic water bottles at the airport you're spending about two bucks for each bottle, so you know, these water stations are gonna save customers at the airport money."

Not to mention health concerns...    "The substances that go into making plastic water bottles are carcinogenic. And they do have a leaking effect over time with heat and various things. So people are ingesting carcinogenic chemicals, in my opinion. It's not healthy."

Former EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck says the danger spreads beyond the Capital Region.  "One million plastic water bottles are purchased around the world every single minute. Estimates are that by 2021 more half a trillion plastic bottles will be sold annually. And the great irony is most of us are fortunate enough to have clean and reliable drinking water just from our taps, with our tax dollars spend a lot of money to make sure we have clean drinking water. So there's really no logical reason to spending a lot of money on reusable plastic water bottles, which many do."

Enck adds that half of all plastics ever made were produced in the past 13 years.   “But the most striking thing that really keeps me up at night is that unless we change the way we use plastic packaging in particular, in the next decade, there will be one pound of plastic in the ocean for every three pounds of fish, so we are turning our oceans into landfills, and that is very, very worrisome.”

Bullock says he's prepared a presentation for Albany International Airport officials, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment from WAMC News. 

Enck : "That was a really positive step by the Albany County Legislature, but we're not over the finish line yet because we need the executives at the Albany County Airport to heed the advice of the Albany County Legislature and put this in place."