Trash in the grass logs at Big Cypress National Preserve Park.
Jeff Greenberg | Universal Image Group | Getty Images
The US Department of the Interior announced on Wednesday that it will phase out the sale of single-use plastic products in national parks and other public lands by 2032, in a bid to mitigate a major contributor to plastic pollution. as the country’s recycling rate continues to decline.
Home Secretary Deb Haaland issued an order reduce the supply, sale and distribution of these products and packaging on more than 480 million acres of public land, and identify more sustainable alternatives such as compostable or biodegradable materials.
This measure would help reduce the more than 14 million tonnes of plastic that end up in the ocean every year. Under the ordinance, single-use plastic products refer to items that are discarded immediately after use, such as plastic and polystyrene food and drink containers, bottles, straws, cups, cutlery and disposable plastic bags.
In 2011, some national parks banned the sale of plastic water bottles in an effort to reduce waste and recycling costs. The restrictions have resulted in the removal of up to 2 million bottles of water per year before the Trump administration reversed the ban six years later.
The United States is one of the world’s largest producers of plastic waste. The country’s recycling rate fell to between 5% and 6% last year, according to a report environmental groups Last Beach Clean Up and Beyond Plastics, as some countries stopped exporting US trash and trash levels soared to new heights.
The Home Office said it generated nearly 80,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste in fiscal year 2020.
“The Home Office has an obligation to take a leadership role in reducing the impact of plastic waste on our ecosystems and our climate,” Haaland said in a statement.
“Today’s order will ensure the Department’s sustainability plans include bold steps to phase out single-use plastic products as we seek to protect our natural environment and the communities around them.”
Environmental groups welcomed the announcement.
“The Home Office’s single-use plastic ban will reduce 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, director campaign on plastics for Oceana, an ocean conservation organization.