Guess what? Despite environmentalists’ outrage, Americans can once again purchase bottled water within our national parks. Yes, it’s the end of an Obama-era policy seeking to reduce plastic waste. Which is a good thing, you are likely thinking. But read below what actually happened after America’s Park Service spent millions of dollars on water fountains and filling stations.
… consumers have a way of thwarting paternalistic plans, and the Park Service failed to apply similar restrictions on soda or sports drinks. When the University of Vermont banned bottled water in 2013, researchers found that bottled beverage consumption did not decrease—and students quenched their thirst with sugary beverages instead of water. Carbonated beverages exert more pressure than water, requiring heavier bottles that use more plastic.
Researchers at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus also assessed a potential water bottle ban, building on findings from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s social cost of carbon. They concluded that “although it is widely believed that these bans are important for environmental reasons,” any benefits were minuscule.
As the WSJ points out, “The teachable moment turns out to be a lesson in the law of unintended consequences.”