San Fransisco International Airport bans drinks sales in plastic bottles

By Andrew Pentol |

San Fransisco International Airport expands plastic-free policy.

San Fransisco Airport (SFO) has announced the expansion of its plastic-free policy to prohibit the sale of beverages in plastic bottles.

In August 2019, SFO became the world’s first airport to prohibit the provision 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.

Ivar C. Satero, Airport Director, San Francisco International Airport said: “This is a significant moment in our goal to achieve zero waste going into landfill. 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.”


Back in 2016, SFO set out to achieve zero waste going to landfill. In order to achieve this the airport has been working with concessions and tenants on supporting policies, including a requirement to provide single-use foodware in compostable packaging.

Based upon waste characterisation 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 daily.

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.

Cheryl Nashir, Revenue Development and Management Director, San Francisco International Airport.

Speaking at this publication’s recent Travel Retail Sustainability Forum online event, which took place during last week’s Summit of the Americas, Cheryl Nashir, Revenue Development and Management Director, San Francisco International Airport said SFO was also considering updating tender conditions to include sustainability benchmarks for retail partners.

“We have to let perspective tenants know what we want early [in terms of sustainability] so they are able to deliver,” she commented. “They want that information and are keen to know how they can please SFO and win in a request for proposal process.”

She added:  “We have already looked at our evaluation criteria and rather than add new elements, we have asked ourselves what can be removed and replaced with sustainability efforts.”

Currently, SFO tender participants do not require any form of certification when it comes to sustainability, but this could change in the future, hinted Nashir.

“We have had a 16-point sustainable food programme, for example, for many years. This is based on a qualitative review of how tender participants plan to meet our requirements.”




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