RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Gov. Bob McDonnell has reversed his predecessor's ban on state agencies' and institutions' purchase of individual-sized plastic water bottles.
Then-Gov. Timothy Kaine issued the directive that the state shouldn't buy plastic-bottled water, unless there's an emergency or health reason, as part of an overall government resource-conservation plan. Plastic water bottles are a huge waste source worldwide, and their continued use has been criticized as adding to overall pollution.
But McDonnell scrubbed Kaine's plastic-water-bottle ban, which he thought would harm state bottled-water manufacturers. It's unclear what financial impact, if any, the ban had on such companies.
Chris Saxman, a former Republican member of the House of Delegates, works for his family business, Shenandoah Valley Water Co. The company distributes drinks, including water, and Saxman questioned whether Kaine's ban helped the environment.
The governor did carry over many elements from Kaine's plan, including asking state employees to recycle, turn off lights, and carpool. He also kept a directive that certain building and renovation projects meet water- and energy-conservation standards.
J.R. Tolbert, assistant director for the Sierra Club's Virginia chapter, applauded McDonnell for keeping the building standards as well as the goal of reducing annual energy use by fiscal year 2012.
But he strongly criticized the reversal of the bottled-water ban, and said it runs counter to the conservation plan's emphasis on reducing, reusing and recycling waste.
"Plastic water bottles are a major source of waste, not just in Virginia but across the country and across the world," he said. "What we should be doing is looking at ways to save money and utilize resources and not add new waste to the stream."
Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.timesdispatch.com