San Francisco Airport is banning plastic water bottles starting this month

SFO Water BottleJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • San Francisco Airport is set to ban single-use plastic water bottles starting on August 20.
  • Passengers will have to bring their own reusable water bottles and fill them at "hydration stations" after security.
  • The airport will also sell reusable water bottles for passengers who forget them.
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Many travelers' airport routines include - after passing through security, but before heading to the boarding gate - purchasing a big bottle of water to help them stay hydrated through the flight.

For travelers at San Francisco International Airport, that routine will have to change.

The airport is banning the sale of single-use plastic water bottles on August 20, the first known rule of its kind at a major American airport.

The ban will apply to all areas of the airport, both before and after security, including stores, restaurants, cafes, and vending machines. The rule only applies to plain water - flavored water and seltzer can still be sold in plastic bottles.

SFO Hot Cold Hydration StationA hydration station at SFO.San Francisco Airport

Instead, the airport will provide "hydration stations" for travelers to fill their own reusable bottles. Passengers can buy refillable aluminum bottles at the airport if they did not bring their own.

"We're the first airport that we're aware of to implement this change," SFO spokesman Doug Yakel told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We're on the leading edge of the industry, and we want to push the boundaries of sustainability initiatives."

Read more: Video shows a toddler who jumped onto an airport luggage belt and was carried back behind the scenes

The prohibition comes from a 2014 San Francisco city ordinance banning the sale of plastic water bottles on city-owned property. The rule was not implemented at the airport until now. It is the latest phase of a broader plan to cut the airport's carbon emissions and energy use to zero by 2021 - that excludes plane-related emissions and energy use.

Vendors at SFO currently sell about 4 million plastic water bottles each year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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