Flying out of San Francisco International Airport (SFO)? Don’t count on grabbing a bottle of water on your way to the gate.
Effective August 20, single-use plastic water bottles will be banned from restaurants, cafes and vending machines at SFO. If you want water, you’ll either have to purchase a refillable aluminum or glass bottle, or you’ll have to bring your own refillable container (you still can’t bring a bottle of water through security).
Flavored waters, teas, coffees, juices and sodas will not be affected by the ban.
This is an unprecedented decision by an eco-friendly airport that’s used to being at the forefront of sustainability efforts. SFO’s Terminal 2 is the first LEED Gold-certified airport building in the country. Its Airfield Operations Facility is solar-powered. And, in addition to eliminating plastic bottles, SFO has instructed its vendors to provide their customers with only compostable food ware.
That means no plastic to-go containers, straws, utensils, and condiment packets.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, this is all part of SFO’s plan to reduce net carbon emissions and energy, and to become the world’s first zero-waste airport within the next two years. The moves are also in line with the San Francisco city ordinance.
“We’re the first airport that we’re aware of to implement this change,” SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said of the water bottle ban. “We’re on the leading edge for the industry, and we want to push the boundaries of sustainability initiatives.”
The move to ban plastic bottles has been met with a mostly positive response. But not everyone is pleased.
“Horrible idea! [Traveling] is stressful enough and now you have to remember a bottle,” @BrotherBourbon said on Twitter.
Yakel pointed out SFO already has about 100 “hydration stations” around the facility where you can refill your own water bottle. He’s also hopeful the airport will eventually extend the ban to include flavored water.
US airports currently sell about four million bottles of water every year.