West Tisbury bottle bylaw may be a first in North America

Gabrielle Mannino

The plastic bottle ban from the West Tisbury annual town meeting warrant, now voted in, may constitute the first such law of its type in the U.S., if not North America, according to the Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS) and the advocacy group Plastic Oceans International. While laws prohibiting plastic water bottles are extant, a law specifically prohibiting plastic soda and water bottles is not, VCS programs and membership coordinator Signe Benjamin told The Times.

“Disposable water bottles have already been banned in several cities and towns across the nation, including four in Massachusetts (Concord, Sudbury, Lincoln, and Great Barrington),” she emailed. “However, the bold kids of Plastic Free MV are aiming even higher: Their measure would be the first in the nation to also ban single-serving plastic bottles of soda. It’s a bold move, and an exciting accomplishment for the kids.”

The kids she referred to are a posse of fifth graders who have been promoting conservation techniques to diminish the use of plastics on the Vineyard.

Their proposal was approved unanimously at town meeting Tuesday in West Tisbury. It will be voted on in Chilmark April 22 and in Aquinnah May 14.

Tod Hardin, head of operations and communications at Plastic Oceans International, said members of his global team discussed the existence of similar legislation in the U.S. and Canada, and none came to mind.

“To our knowledge, it would become the first ban of its kind, which we fully support and applaud at every level,” he emailed ahead of the vote. “It would be a major positive step, and an example of a long-term solution that can serve as an inspirational model for other communities to follow.”

Upon learning of the bylaw approval, Hardin called it “amazing.”



  1. great– but let’s be careful to not just have more glass. if glass is the only alternative, we should impose a $5 bottle deposit– if we are going to be first in North America to ban single use plastic soda bottles , let’s be first to deal with the consequences.

    • The benefit of glass is that, unlike plastic, it can be recycled multiple times. Plastic, as I’ve recently been told, can only be recycled once – into lumber. So while there are still issues with glass, it is a far better option.

      • Gail– exactly– but glass is only recycled at a rate of 28 % . That’s why we have to start looking at ways to get glass to recycling centers– a hefty deposit on all glass containers would do it. Also, since glass is heavier, it uses more energy to get it from a bottling plant in say new jersey, more likely to be damaged during shipping and fairly energy intensive to melt it back down, i wonder why we can’t just re-use the bottle ? If you have any doubt, by the way, I am for the plastic bottle ban.

    • Glass is not the only alternative for single use plastic bottles. There are aluminium cans which are infinitely and easily recyclable. I am proud that the town passed the ban. Hooray for the WT students!

  2. Donx3…in the last several weeks, you have actually made some rational comments that didn’t include derogatory comments about our President…are you slowly becoming a Republican :-))

    • tq– your president makes more comments that are self derogatory, I don’t have to bother. . Every time I see a container of orange juice, for instance– just too ironic. I mean it, I couldn’t make this stuff up.
      But thanks for the compliment. However, if you think putting a $5 deposit on a bottle of soda is a good idea, perhaps you slowly becoming a liberal :-))

  3. If the story is about a ban on single-serve plastic soda bottle—why is the photo of large multi-serving bottles?

    • your help– remember when New York tried to ban single serving soda servings over 20 oz. , and the conservatives screamed about the “nanny state” ? some people might think a half gallon of soda is a single serving.. who are we to say it is not ?

      • When I was growing up, we drank soda at picnics and birthday parties and special occasions only. Sugary drinks were not part of everyday life for anyone. Water fountains were everywhere, including schools, beaches, movie theaters. No one ever carried around personal drinks, except for a thermos bottle of milk in our school lunch box before the small milk cartons were available at school. The soda and sugary drink choices people make for themselves and their children these days just floors me. I agree with this ban. If you can’t live without a personal water bottle everywhere you go, see a doctor. Bring a thermos to the beach.

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