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Grand Canyon announces ban on bottled water

Scott Tong Feb 8, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Grand Canyon National Park is about to stop selling bottled water. A fifth of the Canyon’s waste is from plastic bottles.

But the ban is not going down well with everyone, as Scott Tong reports from the Marketplace Sustainability desk.

Scott Tong: The ban follows an activist and corporate tug of war, and some pretty interesting internal emails about Coca-Cola.

You see, Coke sells Dasani bottled water, and it’s donated $13 million to national parks. More than a year ago, the head of the National Park Service seemed nervous about a ban in an email: “There are going to be consequences, since Coke is a major sponsor.” Coke officials complained the ban was “disturbing.”

Then, last June, the service director caved, argues Jeff Ruch of the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Jeff Ruch: Consumer choice was going to be the policy. And that was the line that the bottlers were using. Consumer choice is for shopping malls, not for national parks.

Ruch’s group released the emails in November, at which point angry activists launched a petition campaign. The new ban means they win, for now. If there’s a backlash from Coke or other sponsors, parks could face money shortages, at a time when taxpayer money is tight.

For the record, a Coke spokeperson says company support “will continue.”

In Washington, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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