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NY Gov. Paterson signs Executive Order to phase out bottled water at State facilities

Executive Order Will Improve Environment and Save Taxpayer Dollars

New York Becomes Second State in the Country to Eliminate Purchase and Use of Bottled Water

Governor David A. Paterson today (May 5, 2009) signed an Executive Order to phase out New York State’s purchase and use of bottled water at State agency facilities. This announcement, made by the Governor at “Earth Day Lobby Day” in Albany, marks another important step New York State is taking to improve the environment while simultaneously saving taxpayer dollars. Today’s actions make New York the second state in the country to eliminate the purchase and use of bottled water.

The Executive Order will phase out the expenditure of State funds for the purchase of single serve bottles and larger, cooler-sized bottles for water consumed at State agency facilities. The measure requires each executive agency to develop and implement a plan to phase out expenditures for bottled water and provide alternative water sources such as ordinary tap water fountains and dispensers.

“Taxpayers have spent billions of dollars to ensure that we have clean drinking water supplies,” said Governor Paterson. “If we are going to make such significant investments, we should reap the benefits and use that water. Our efforts will serve as an example for local governments, businesses and residents to follow.”

Under the Executive Order, each agency plan is required to lay out the specific actions and policies that will be undertaken to achieve compliance with the Order; assess the capability of existing facilities to provide tap water for consumption in place of bottled water; identify reasonable improvements that can be made to ensure reasonable access to tap water for consumption; and describe the steps the agency will take to avoid new contractual commitments to purchase bottled water.

The Order also requires the Office of General Services to monitor agency compliance with the Order and identify agency constraints to compliance; identify options to make tap water available to patrons free of charge at food service establishments on State facilities as a choice in lieu of purchasing bottled water; and seek additional opportunities to transition from the use of bottled water to tap water at State facilities.

Bottled water is wasteful and requires large amounts of energy to bottle and transport. Over 450 million gallons of oil are used to transport water from bottling plants to stores. In the United States, plastic water bottle manufacturing uses 17 million barrels of oil, producing over 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution. Eighty percent of these bottles, which are equal to four billion pounds, end up in garbage incinerators or landfills.

New York has an abundance of tap water for consumption. Three out of four people drink bottled water on a regular basis even though many bottled water products are often just filtered tap water. In addition, for each gallon of water that goes into a plastic bottle, two gallons of water are used to make the plastic bottles and to filter the water.

State Senator Antoine Thompson said: “While useful in some circumstances, bottled water is expensive and has several negative environmental impacts, including the pollution from vehicles used to transport the bottles, and the resources used to make the bottles. I congratulate the Governor on another green initiative and policy.”

Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee, said: “This will reduce large amounts of plastic container waste, conserve petroleum used in the manufacture of plastic water bottles, and reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the bottling and transport of the bottled water. By switching from bottled water, State agencies can reduce their environmental impact while also saving tax-payers’ dollars.”

Peter Lehner, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “A decade ago, NRDC released a comprehensive study revealing bottled water is no safer or more pure than municipal drinking water. In fact, New York State is home to some of the highest quality drinking water supplies in the nation. Governor Paterson’s announcement not only makes sense when it comes to public health – it will save taxpayers money and cut global warming emissions from the manufacture and transport of bottled water.”

Barbara Warren, Executive Director of the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, said: “Massive amounts of chemicals and petroleum are used to make unnecessary water bottles. This is a problem that did not exist even a few years ago. I applaud Governor Paterson for providing leadership on the important issue of reducing plastic waste.”

Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Director of the Technical Policy, Consumers Union (publishers of Consumer Reports) said: “A phase-out on the purchase of water bottles that includes a plan to ensure accessibility to clean tap water is the way to reduce unnecessary plastic waste and energy required to collect, bottle and transport water. We commend Governor Paterson’s decision.”

Full text: Executive Order No. 18

Contact: Errol Cockfield | errol.cockfield@chamber.state.ny.us | 212.681.4640 | 518.474.8418

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