Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland issued an order to phase out single-use plastic products on lands managed by the Department of the Interior by 2032. The order is intended to reduce — and eventually eliminate — plastic and polystyrene food and beverage containers, bottles, straws, cups, cutlery and disposable plastic bags at national parks and on other public lands.
The U.S. National Parks Service (NPS) manages an average of nearly 70 million pounds of waste annually. Plastic comprises half of Yellowstone National Park’s waste. Four out of five surveyed visitors said that they would support banning single-use plastic bottles in parks. PIRG and Environment America have been calling on NPS to ban the sale of single-use plastics at all national parks. Many states have already banned polystyrene cups and containers and plastic bags.
Janet Domenitz, executive director of MASSPIRG and vice chair of PIRG said: “Scientists have found plastic pollution nearly everywhere they look — from the depths of the ocean to the tops of our tallest mountains. Much of this pollution comes from single-use plastics that we use for five minutes but then pollute our environment for centuries. With many states already moving beyond plastic, we’re grateful that the Department of the Interior has heard the call from the public, and put nature above plastic waste.”
Environment America’s Protect Our Oceans Campaign Director, Kelsey Lamp, said: “When we take a hike in our national parks, we hope to see scenic vistas, towering trees and amazing wildlife – not plastic pollution. But many of us have had the sad experience of visiting our favorite park or beach and finding plastic trash. For wildlife, who too often consume this trash, that can be deadly. Single-use products such as foam cups and containers don’t belong in our treasured outdoor spaces. We thank Secretary Haaland for setting an inspiring goal of eliminating plastic waste, but 2032 is too long to wait for plastic-free parks. We urge the Biden administration to put wildlife over waste and move even faster on this excellent initiative.”