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SFO Expands Plastic-Free Policy


The San Francisco International Airport (SFO) announced the expansion of its industry-leading plastic-free policy to prohibit the sale of any beverages in plastic bottles. In August 2019, SFO became the first airport in the world to prohibit the provision or sale of single-use water bottles in plastic or aseptic paper packaging. This policy has now been expanded to prohibit the sale of any beverages, including sodas, teas, and juices in plastic or aseptic paper packaging.

“This is a significant moment in our goal to achieve zero waste going into landfill,” said Airport Director Ivar C. Satero. “We took a very important first step two years ago, and today we take the next step towards a plastic-free future. Throughout this journey, it has been our SFO business community which ensures our success, and we thank our partners for having the courage to be leaders in our industry.”

In 2016, SFO established a goal to achieve zero waste going to landfill. To achieve this goal, SFO has been working with concessions and tenants on supporting policies, including a requirement to provide single-use food ware in compostable packaging. Based upon waste characterization studies, 33% of the items sent to landfill from SFO are food or food service ware and beverage containers. In August 2019, SFO implemented a Zero Waste Concessions Policy to prohibit the sale of water in plastic bottles or aseptic paper packaging. At the time, approximately 10,000 bottles of water were being sold at SFO every day. This expanded program further avoids the energy-intensive production and diverts 1,000,000 fossil-fuel-based beverage containers a year from landfill.

SFO has provided airport retailers with a guide of approved alternatives to plastic beverage bottles. In addition, SFO installed 100 hydration stations across the airport to expand access and encourage passengers to bring refillable bottles.

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