Five Cents is not Much


Margaret Lyons of the Chicagoist writes about the article I had earmarked from todays paper, a fluff piece obviously sponsored by the beverage industry. She makes essentially the same point I had planned to make (at least in my mind), namely that five cents per bottle sure doesn't sound that big of a deal. If I purchased bottled water on a regular basis (I don't, have several of those fancy-schmancy swiss bottles that I refill from my sink), would I even notice if I spent an extra quarter a week?

The Illinois Beverage Association is really, really not psyched about the 5-cent tax on bottled water effective January 1. They're teaming with the American Beverage Association, the International Bottled Water Association, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Illinois Food Retailers Association to sue the City once the law goes into effect. Oh, and they've sent out a press release every day for the last week to remind us all how unhappy they are about the tax, how fucked up it, how unfair, etc. Looks like all that hard work paid off because today's Trib has a story that effectively backs the IBA and their co-plaintiffs by taking a completely uncritical look at their claims.

"State law prohibits the City of Chicago from imposing a tax on a single product like they have done with this bottled water tax," Bramlet said. "If this tax is allowed to go into effect, then what is to preclude the City Council from deciding to tax salad dressing or lawn mowers?"
Except the City already taxes soft drinks, right?
[Click to read more of Chicagoist: Bottled-Water Tax Story Even Bigger Sham Than Bottled Water]
Water Tower Train Trestle

Mayor Daley proposed a ten cent per bottle tax back in October, by the way. The bill that passed cut this tax in half.

Mayor Richard Daley reached for bottled water to slake his thirst for new tax revenue Wednesday, proposing a 10-cent tariff on every bottle sold in the city.
That $1.25 water from a vending machine could soon cost $1.35. And a 24-pack of Aquafina, advertised for $4.50 at a local grocery chain, would cost $6.90 with the proposed tax, an increase of more than 50 percent.

With millions of water bottles drained each year across the city, the dime-per-bottle tax would add up to a projected $21 million, part of a $293 million package of new taxes, fees and fines proposed by Daley on Wednesday.

The tax would place Chicago squarely in the center of a national debate over the environmental and economic impact of bottled water. The tide appears to be turning on bottled water, a national trend that has spawned a backlash from those who complain that landfills are awash in clear plastic empties. Suddenly, bottled water seems to have fallen to the level of cigarettes and soda pop -- an easy tax target. "Money-wise, it's a good idea, and environmentally, it's a good idea," said Ald. George Cardenas (12th), who proposed the bottled-water tax in August.

"People get upset when they hear the word tax," Cardenas said. "There's no tax on water. There's a tax on the plastic. [Tap] water is practically free."
The city's tax on soft drinks -- 3 percent of a distributor's gross sales receipts, or 3 cents for a $1 bottle of soda pop -- is already factored into vending machine prices, Stein said.
If the beverage corporations are so worried that folks will drive 30 minutes to Skokie (or wherever) to buy a bottle of Lake Michigan-filled water for five cents cheaper than the local convenience store, perhaps the beverage corporations could shave four cents off of their profit margin, and sell the water cheaper within the city limits. Seems to work well with sodas.


I've been eying those fancy shmancy Swiss bottles for a while now, but haven't been able to bring myself to pony up for a couple. Maybe I will now. I guess one is not supposed to reuse the plastic bottles. Oh well.

Well, I think the problem theoretically could be that plastic bottles can eventually harbor bacteria (since you cannot wash them out with sanitizing water), however I'm skeptical if that really is a problem. I used to use a plastic bottle for months. I switched to the Sigg bottle system because I started reading about plastic leeching.

Whenever i have gone to the Sigg site to order bottles they didn't have any in stock. offers the same type of reusable bottles they just don't have as much variety as Sigg. Lucky for me I preferred the design of the Waterweek bottles to the ones on Sigg.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on December 28, 2007 1:05 AM.

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