In 2014, 56% of San Franciscans voted in favor of Prop E, a tax on sugary-sweetened beverages. Although the tax did not meet the 2/3 threshold to pass that was required at that time, garnering the support of 56% of the voting population was a significant achievement, considering the opposition spent over $10 million to defeat it.
Then as now, the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters endorsed the tax on sugary beverages because in addition to the dramatic benefits for human health*, there are also significant benefits for the environment:
- The manufacture of plastic bottles, glass bottles, and aluminum cans consumes resources, produces pollution, and the containers often enter the waste stream instead of being recycled. According to the EPA, only about 55% of aluminum cans and 34% of glass bottles are recycled.
- A reduction in the consumption of these beverages, combined with a switch to refillable water bottles, can lower the greenhouse gas emissions that result from the production and distribution of these beverages.
- A reduction in the consumption of these beverages would also reduce the demand for numerous sugar and sweetening crops, including corn, sugar cane and beet sugar. This has the potential to preserve natural habitat, reduce fertilizer and pesticide use, and to reduce transportation related impacts.
- In addition, the proponents of this measure intend that the funds raised by this tax also be used to encourage more public water fountains. Public water fountains are a significant way to address the water mining / equity problems that are created by shipping water-based products such as soda and bottled water from one part of the world to another.
Taken together, these reasons are enough to convince us that the Soda Tax is not just good for health, but also good for the environment. Please vote YES on Proposition V.
*A recent study of Berkeley’s soda tax found that consumption of sugary beverages fell 26% (soda) and 36% (sports drinks) while consumption of tap or bottled water rose 63% since the tax took effect in March 2015.