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The Dept. of Interior released plans to phase out the sale of single-use plastic on public lands including national parks.
Why it Matters
Plastic waste threatens the environment, wildlife, and human health. Americans buy nearly 30 billion plastic water bottles annually, and the majority of those bottles end up in landfills, contributing to the plastic pollution crisis.
On June 8, 2022, the Biden administration announced in Dept. of Interior Order 3407 that it would phase out the sale of single-use plastics at national parks, refuges, and other public lands, making up 480 million acres in the United States. In September 2023, the Dept. of Interior announced that all bureaus and offices have finalized sustainable procurement plans to phase out single-use plastics on public lands within the next decade. These plans will be updated in 2024.
Timeline of Events
December 14, 2011 The National Park Service issues a memorandum encouraging individual parks to ban the sale of disposable plastic water bottles within the parks.
Trump AdministrationRead more
August 16, 2017 The memorandum is discontinued, and the National Park Service no longer discourages the sale of disposable plastic water bottles.
September 13, 2017 US Representative Mike Quigley introduces the “Reducing Waste in National Parks Act” (H.R. 3768), which seeks to reinstate the voluntary ban.
September 22, 2017 In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the National Park Service publicly releases a report from May 2017 that evaluates the success of the voluntary ban. It determines that the policy reduced plastic use by up to 111 million pounds, prevented up to 141 million tons of greenhouse gases from being emitted, and conserved a significant amount of energy and landfill space.
September 10, 2019 US Representative Mike Quigley reintroduces the “Reducing Waste in National Parks Act” (H.R. 4236) seeking to encourage recycling and to reduce plastic bottle use in national parks.
BIDEN AdministrationRead more
June 8, 2022 Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland signed Dept. of Interior Order 3407, phasing out the sale of single-use plastics at national parks, refuges, and other public lands in a process that will run through 2032. The order was issued pursuant to Executive Order 14057, which included a focus on sustainable acquisition and procurement. The phase-out will be led by the Department’s Chief Sustainability Officer.
Nov. 1, 2022 A report from Trashblitz that analyzed National Park waste found that 81 percent of all waste found in U.S. national parks and public lands was plastic.
Sep. 28, 2023 The Dept. of Interior announced that all bureaus and offices have finalized sustainable procurement plans to phase out single-use plastics on public lands within the next decade. These plans will be updated in 2024.
Dec. 26, 2023 The General Services Administration (GSA) proposed to amend the GSA Acquisition Regulation to identify single-use plastic free packaging availability for products under the Federal Supply Schedules. The updated rule would encourage industry partners to reduce plastic waste and contribute to the Federal Sustainability Plan to achieve net-zero emission procurements by 2050. Comments are due Feb. 26, 2024.