US National Parks Stop Selling Plastic Water Bottles, Here’s When

US National Parks Stop Selling Plastic Water Bottles, Here’s When

US National Parks Stop Selling Plastic Water Bottles, Here’s When

The United States Department of the Interior has announced that it will phase out the sale of plastic water bottles and other single-use plastic products in all national parks and other public lands over the next 10 years.

Minister’s Order 3407, issued Wednesday by Home Secretary Deb Haaland, calls on the ministry to reduce the purchase, sale and distribution of single-use plastic products and packaging on 480 million acres of federally managed land and to fully phase out the products. phase. use by 2032. It also states that the department will identify alternatives to single-use plastics, such as compostable or biodegradable materials or 100 percent recycled materials.

“The Interior Ministry has a duty to play a leading role in reducing the impact of plastic waste on our ecosystems and our climate,” said Minister Haaland in a statement.

“As stewards of the nation’s public lands, including national parks and national nature reserves, and as the agency responsible for the conservation and management of fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats, we are in a unique position to do better for our planet, Secretary of State Haaland wrote. “Today’s decision will ensure that the ministry’s sustainability plans include bold measures to phase out single-use plastic products as we seek to protect our natural environment and the communities around it.”

The announcement was praised by conservation groups, which have been campaigning for the cause for years.

“The Department of the Interior’s single-use plastic ban will curb millions of pounds of unnecessary single-use plastic in our national parks and other public areas, where it could eventually pollute these special areas and the oceans and waterways in and around them.” , says Christy Leavitt. , says the plastic campaign coordinator at Oceana, an ocean conservation organization, according to Reuters.

A growing problem

Reducing plastic waste is an environmental priority. For example, consider that the United States produced 42 million tons of plastic waste in 2016 — more than any other country in the world, according to a 2020 study published in scientific progress

However, since then the problem has only gotten worse. In her statement, Haaland explained that less than 10 percent of plastic ever produced has been recycled — and recycling rates aren’t getting any better.

“Our ocean is downstream from all sources of pollution and bears the brunt of the consequences: of the more than 300 million tons of plastic produced each year for use in a wide variety of applications, at least 14 million tons of plastic are produced. into the ocean. every year, and plastic makes up 80 percent of all marine debris found from surface water to deep-sea sediments,” wrote Haaland. “Sea species ingest or become entangled in plastic waste, causing serious injury and death, and plastic pollution threatens food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism and contributes to climate change.”

What does the order mean?

Secretary Haaland’s order, which in turn falls under President Biden’s Executive Order 14057 which calls on federal agencies to minimize waste and support markets for recycled products, explains that single-use plastic products and polystyrene food and beverage packaging and bottles, straws, cups, cutlery and disposable plastic bags that are intended to be used once and thrown away. The use of those products will be phased out in all national parks and other public lands by 2023.

The order also calls on the Department of the Interior to identify harmless, environmentally friendly alternatives to single-use plastic products.

Those alternatives include “bottles made from biobased plastic, glass and aluminum, and laminated boxes can replace single-use plastic bottles, as well as reusable bottles made of glass, aluminum or stainless steel,” the order explains. Likewise, “bags made from paper, bioplastic and composite can replace single-use plastic bags, as well as reusable fabrics or thicker plastic alternatives.”

Finally, similar materials can be used to replace single-use plastics used in food packaging, beverage cups, tableware and other products, giving the Home Office a range of options to account for the variety of geographic locations and social contexts,” explains the order.

Support for the change

In an effort to reduce plastic litter, the National Park Service has instituted a policy to encourage national parks to end the sale of bottled water by 2011. As a result, 23 of the 417 national parks, including Grand Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, have imposed restrictions on the sale of bottled water. Instead, those parks encouraged visitors to use refillable bottles filled with tap water.

Then in 2017, the Trump administration reversed those Obama-era policies, in a move that sided with subsequent complaints from bottled water suppliers.

The new Interior Department order ending Trump administration policies is being celebrated by environmental groups.

“We applaud President Biden and Home Secretary Haaland for recognizing the devastating impact single-use plastics are having on our planet and for taking meaningful action to keep this persistent pollutant out of our oceans and communities,” Leavitt said. from Oceana, according to The Guardian.

Oceana further notes that a national poll conducted in November 2021 found that more than 80 percent of U.S. voters said they would support a National Park Service decision to stop selling single-use plastics in America. national parks, according to the Associated Press.

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