A proposal to tax bottled water was filed Monday in the Florida Senate, re-igniting a water war that has pitted Sen. Evelyn Lynn against bottlers and business groups.
Lynn’s bill (SB 118, see below) is identical to a bill filed last year by Lynn that failed to get a committee hearing.
Given $700 million in budget cuts to water management districts and other cuts to statewide water quality programs, Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, said providing a source of money to pay for mitigating the environmental damage caused by discarded bottles may find more sympathy.
“This would be an effective way to set aside money for environmental cleanup,” Lynn told the News Service of Florida on Monday.
But opposition is expected to be fierce as Lynn battles bottlers like Nestle North American Waters and business groups who rely upon bottled water sales for a growing part of their businesses. She will also face an uphill fight against leaders in her own chamber, who have taken an ardent anti-tax stance.
“Florida’s bottled water industry generates millions of dollars in revenue for local communities and any efforts to penalize Florida’s bottled water consumers will ultimately drive business to neighboring states where it is not taxed,” said Ryan Duffy, a Nestle spokesman. “The industry supports 8,800 jobs in Florida while utilizing less than one tenth of one percent of all water usage in the state.”
The bill would levy a 6-percent surcharge on the sale of bottled water in containers under a 1 gallon size. The money would be deposited in the Ecosystem Management and Restoration Trust Fund.
Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles an hour, making the bottled water industry a $7.7 billion market in the United States alone, according to some industry estimates. If recycled, bottles save energy, but uncollected containers have become increasingly targeted by recycling groups and have been banned in some municipalities.
Past efforts to bring a surcharge to Florida have been opposed by bottling companies, convenience stores and the national groups representing vendors, including the National Automatic Merchandising Association and their state affiliate.
“Most vending machine companies are small businesses,” said Bill Baker, a Clearwater vending company owner and president of the Automated Merchandising Association of Florida, “A tax would be bad for those mom and pops. It will also raise the price to customers.”
Environmental groups have also been relatively quiet on the issue. Charles Lee, advocacy director for Audubon of Florida, said Monday the organization has not yet taken a stance on Lynn’s bill, which is yet to gain a committee assignment.
–Michael Peltier, News Service of Florida
As they should tax bottled water…It is a crime against our planet to promote the increasing consumption of bottled water. We should make it less convenient and more costly to maker consumers do the right thing, which is buy in large size and refill containers that aren’t disposable or disposed less often!!!
A great idea, long overdue. I gave up bottled water after hearing a podcast which noted how much crude oil is used to manufacture one plastic bottle. I don’t remember the exact figure, but it may have been about 1.3 gallons or so. This as we were watching gas skyrocket toward $4.00 per gallon, worrying about diminishing oil supplies, and trying to figure out how to reduce dependency on foreign oil. It made no sense to me to buy bottle watered with that in mind and I haven’t done so since….probably 2 years or so now. Further, those who think that bottled water is somehow better, more pure, etc are completely deluded and have fallen prey to the marketing by Nestle, Coca-Cola, etc. There is simply no scientific truth or validity to it. The water from any municipality is actually monitored and regulated to a higher standard. The Nestle’s, etc pay little to nothing for their permits and virtually nothing for the water they extract from our aquifers and make billions at the expense of our environment. Maybe if folks had to pay the tax, knew the facts about the oil it took to make even one bottle, etc., they would think twice and figure out that they, too, can use a refillable bottle.
John Boy says
How about a special tax on beer bottles and cans, maybe wine and hard spirts. Water doen’t cause any of the social and medical problems like various forms of booze does. This idea will never capture any interest because too many are addicted to booze. I suspect alot more water and other resources are exended to make and sell all forms of booze than the bottling of water. Recycling water bottles is much more previlent that beer cans. I see more beer cans in the ICW than water bottles..
Why can’t people just fill their reusable water containers from the tap? The bottled water is mostly just from someone else’s municipal water system, not a virgin spring in the wilderness.
Why single out bottle water because of littering and the environment, it is only fair to have it on all drinks in single serving containers. I think this is a way to drive the water bottlers out of the state before Nestle takes over local laws like they have up in Maine.
If this were truly about the environment the state should go with a deposit system like many other states have. You can no longer use crude oil as an excuse one a deposit system is put in place. Also Pepsi and others have developed a bottle that is made of vegetable products that is in final testing.
some guy says
I also say a deposit on all beer, soda, juce/sport drinks and water would be a good thing in keeping them from just being tosed to the side of the road. If they were then some one would pick them up for the$. I realy do dislike the amount of waist in the single use water bottles
[email protected] says
tax bottled water? please…what are you thinking?
Michael Murphy says
Come on Sen. Lynn we are not that stupid. Given this tax, by the time we pay the gov. cronnies that will over see it there wont be much for any clean up. Why not pass a bottle bill that would require a 5 cent deposit on bottles,and upon bringing bottle to redemption center you would receive the 5 cents back.This has worked in other states like Mass.You will see people picking them up every where because that 5 cents really adds up,Just think if a kid picks up 20 they have a dollar.No goverment involment,no new taxes(THAT YOU CANT GET BACK) clean streets, and everything recycled. My daily rant….
Makes no sense. Deposit is the way to go.