The Ban on Plastic Water Bottles at LAX

The LAX Plastic Water Bottle Ban will reduce plastic waste and set a good example for travellers.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The LAX Plastic Water Bottle Ban will reduce plastic waste and set a good example for travellers. Image Andre m, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The LAX Plastic Water Bottle Ban will reduce plastic waste and set a good example for travellers.

Did you know that over 481 billion plastic bottles are used worldwide every year? Americans purchase, on average, 50 billion water bottles per year. This averages about 13 bottles per month for every person. The US, China and Indonesia are the largest consumers of plastic water bottles. Purchasing plastic water bottles in these countries buying, plastic water bottles are seen as a luxury whereby the water is regarded as “healthier” or has a better taste. Countries in the Global South together represent roughly 60 percent of the market. These countries are almost dependent on plastic water bottles due to the lack of reliable access to safe tap water.

The issues surrounding the overconsumption of plastic water bottles include the fact that the groundwater extracted to help fill the billions of plastic bottles a year poses a potential threat to drinking water resources. Moreover, the industry’s growth helps distract attention and resources from funding the public water infrastructure needed in many countries. Using plastic water bottles harms the planet because most plastic gets thrown into landfills. In fact, only 9 percent of the plastic from these bottles is recycled, which is only getting lower due to China no longer accepting US plastics.  

Despite the adverse effects plastic, especially plastic water bottles, have on the planet, there is no sign of these sales slowing down. Experts are saying that plastic water bottle sales are expected to rise by 2030. 

To reduce the use of plastic water bottles, at least in the US, the Los Angeles Airport (also commonly known as LAX) is banning the sale of these single-use plastic water bottles. Over 9 million plastic water bottles were sold at LAX alone in 2019, which averages more than 24 000 bottles a day. The LAX plastic water bottle ban went into effect on June 30, 2023.  

The LAX plastic water bottle ban includes concessionaires, restaurants, lounges, vending machines and events happening at the airport. Only single-use water bottles made from recyclable aluminium, cartons or glass may be sold at the airport. The airport encourages visitors to bring their own reusable water bottles and use the water bottle refill stations located in the various terminals. The LAX plastic water bottle ban does not include other beverages sold in plastic bottles or bottled water from flight services on aircraft. This is something that might change in the coming years.  

This new policy is part of the Los Angeles World Airports (including LAX and Van Nuys Airports) Sustainability Action Plan, which targets a zero-waste future. The plan is to make these airports zero waste by 2045. The LAX plastic water bottle ban is only the second airport in the world to ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles and follows San Francisco International Airport, which placed its ban in 2019. In 2021, San Francisco extended the ban to include other types of beverages.  

The LAX plastic water bottle ban is only part of a bigger push for sustainability. Los Angeles World Airport has a long history of committing to environmental sustainability. In the early 1990s, it introduced waste diversion and recycling programs at its airports and in 2007, it adopted one of the first sustainability plans for any airport in the nation. Reducing waste and eliminating single-use plastics are important goals for the Los Angeles World Airports and the City of Los Angeles. The LA City Green New Deal calls for all city departments to phase out single-use plastic by 2028 and achieved 100 percent waste diversion by 2050. 

It’s impressive that no other airports have taken these initiatives yet. But we know that California is a leader in the sustainability movement. Hopefully, the LAX plastic water bottle ban will encourage other airports around the US and even across the globe to take part in this initiative and reduce dependence on plastic.

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