End Plastics

No More Plastics in Our National Parks

In an attempt to End Plastic Pollution, the Biden administration has recently announced its 10-year plan to phase out single-use plastic products on US public lands, including all American national parks. 

These efforts started over a decade ago in 2011, when the parks service encouraged America’s 417 federal parks to end bottled water sales where practical. Following this new bottle ban policy, 23 of America’s most famous parks — including the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park — ended bottled water sales and installed free bottle filling stations.

This small change alone resulted in the removal of 2 million water bottles annually from the national parks and, subsequently, the world’s oceans. However, the Trump administration reversed this policy six years later in 2017, and the ban on bottled water was no longer allowed on public lands. The policy change came after just a few months of lobbying by the International Bottled Water Association. It began its campaign in January after Donald Trump’s inauguration and spent $80,000 arguing against the bottle ban. 

Five years later, on June 8, 2022, World Oceans Day, The US Interior Department announced it would eliminate the sale of single-use plastics on public lands. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland issued Order no. 3407 as a department-wide approach to reducing single-use plastic pollution. This order will eliminate the sale, distribution, and procurement of single-use plastic products and packaging on more than 480 million acres of public land. 

If successful, the single-use plastic ban will curb millions of pounds of unnecessary disposable plastic in our national parks and other public lands. The measure alone would help reduce the more than 14 million tons of plastic in the ocean every year. 

The United States is one of the world’s largest producers of plastic waste and other types of waste. Americans purchase about 50 billion water bottles per year, averaging about 13 bottles per month for every person in the US. By using a reusable water bottle, we could all save an average of 156 plastic bottles annually. 

Unfortunately, individual change will not be enough to halt plastic pollution. Legislation and regulation will be the key to ending the plastic-pollution epidemic. The federal government holds the ability to drive change through its waste reduction policies and market power. With the continual support of the US Interior Department, the President, and many other local and federal government officials, the US can become a nation free from plastic pollution. We can serve as an international leader in the transition to sustainability by 2032. 

Ten years from now might seem kind of far but, in the meantime, there are plenty of steps you can personally take to continue to rid the world of plastic pollution: