Plastic Water Bottles to Be Phased Out on Federal Lands

Decision flips a Trump-era policy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 8, 2022 6:38 PM CDT
US to Phase Out Plastic Bottles in National Parks by 2032
US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland speaks at Monument Valley, Utah, last month.   (Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

(Newser) – The Interior Department said Wednesday it will phase out sales of plastic water bottles and other single-use products at national parks and on other public lands over the next decade, targeting a major source of US pollution. An order issued by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland calls for the department to reduce the purchase, sale, and distribution of single-use plastic products and packaging on 480 million acres of federally managed lands, with a goal of phasing out the products by 2032. The order directs the department to identify alternatives to single-use plastics, such as compostable or biodegradable materials, or 100% recycled materials, the AP reports.

"As the steward of the nation's public lands, including national parks and national wildlife refuges, and as the agency responsible for the conservation and management of fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats," the Interior Department is “uniquely positioned to do better for our Earth," Haaland said in a statement. The order essentially reverses a 2017 Trump administration policy that prevented national parks from banning plastic water bottle sales. Only a fraction of the more than 400 national parks, but some of the most popular ones like the Grand Canyon, had implemented such a ban.

Haaland's order "will curb millions of pounds of unnecessary disposable plastic in our national parks and other public lands, where it can end up polluting these special areas," said Christy Leavitt of the conservation group Oceana. The group urged the National Park Service and other agencies to move swiftly to carry out changes in reducing single-use plastics well before 2032. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., also urged quicker action to address what he called the plastic pollution crisis. Oceana said a national poll conducted by Ipsos in November 2021 found that more than 80% of American voters would support a decision by the National Park Service to stop selling and distributing single-use plastics at national parks.

(Read more plastic stories.)

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