WASHINGTON --- Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland issued an order on Wednesday, World Oceans Day, 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. PennEnvironment and its national affiliate Environment America have been calling on NPS to ban the sale of single-use plastics at all national parks. Many states, but not Pennsylvania, have already banned polystyrene cups and containers and plastic bags.
Faran Savitz, Zero Waste Advocate with PennEnvironment said:
“Our testing has found plastic pollution at beloved sites run by the federal government, such as Valley Forge and the Delaware Water Gap, as well as in every other Pennsylvania waterway that we’ve tested. Nothing that we use for five minutes, such as a single-use plastic bag or plastic bottle, should pollute our environment for centuries to come. More and more Pennsylvania municipalities are taking action to ban single-use plastics, and we’re grateful that the Department of the Interior has heard the call from the public, and taken action to protect our parks and open spaces.”
Environment America’s Protect Our Oceans Campaign Director Kelsey Lamp said:
“When we take a hike in Valley Forge, we hope to see scenic vistas, rolling hills, and historic monuments – not plastic pollution. But many of us have had the sad experience of visiting our favorite parks or rivers 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.”