The National Park Service Phases Out Single-Use Plastic
Yellowstone cobrands with PATH to encourage refilling and minimize waste
The Department of Interior announced that it will phase out the use of single-use plastic across all national parks by 2032. The decision, which is part of a broader effort to reduce the environmental impact of park operations, has significant implications for the future of sustainability in our country's natural landscapes.
The problem with single-use plastic in National Parks
81% of all waste found in the country's national parks and other public lands is plastic, according to a report released by the advocacy group Plastic-Free Parks. Single-use plastic has become ubiquitous in our daily lives, but its impact on the environment is devastating. Single-use plastic waste does not biodegrade and instead accumulates in our landfills, oceans, rivers, and other natural spaces. According to a report by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Plastic makes up roughly 80% of all marine debris found from surface waters to deep-sea sediments.
National parks, which are some of our most precious natural landscapes, are particularly vulnerable to the impact of single-use plastic:
- Remote locations make it difficult for equipment and waste management personnel to recover single-use plastic waste from littering.
- Large crowds of visitors mean large mounds of single-use plastic waste, which can be challenging to manage.
- Wildlife is impacted by single-use plastic when it's mistaken for food, resulting in digestive blockages and toxic poisoning.
- Waterways can get clogged with single-use plastic, which harms aquatic life and disrupts ecosystems.
Many national park visitors may not be aware of the impact their plastic waste can have on the environment, especially when it multiplies. Without proper education and awareness, they may not take steps to reduce their plastic consumption or properly dispose of their waste.
The National Park Service's decision to phase out single-use plastic
Recognizing the negative impact of single-use plastic on our environment, the NPS has made the decision to phase out the use of these products in all national parks.
The decision to phase out single-use plastic was made for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the NPS is committed to protecting the environment and reducing its carbon footprint. Eliminating single-use plastic is an important step towards achieving this goal. Additionally, the NPS expects to save money by reducing the need for plastic products and disposal costs. Finally, the NPS sees itself as a leader in environmental stewardship and hopes that its decision to phase out single-use plastic will inspire other organizations to do the same.
Impact of phasing out single-use plastic
The decision to phase out single-use plastic is expected to have a significant positive impact on national parks and the environment more broadly. By reducing plastic waste, national parks will be able to better protect wildlife and ecosystems and improve the visitor experience.
As one of the largest land management agencies in the country, the NPS has the potential to set an example for other organizations, including state and local governments, businesses, and individuals. By demonstrating the feasibility and benefits of eliminating single-use plastic, the NPS may help to catalyze broader action on this important issue.
Yellowstone partners with PATH for refillable cobrand to reduce waste
Yellowstone National Park holds a special place in history as the world's first national park. When it was established in 1872, it set a new standard for the protection and preservation of natural areas. Its creation inspired the establishment of national parks and protected areas around the world, and it helped to launch the modern conservation movement.
Today, Yellowstone remains a flagship park within the National Park Service system, attracting millions of visitors each year who come to see its stunning geothermal features, abundant wildlife, and expansive landscapes. As a symbol of its commitment to sustainability, Yellowstone has partnered with PATH to offer visitors a refillable aluminum option for bottled water that is easy to reuse, keep as a souvenir, and recycle. The bottle features both the PATH and Yellowstone logos, reminding visitors of the importance of protecting our natural resources and preserving them for future generations.
The cobranded PATH bottle is part of a broader effort by Yellowstone to reduce waste and promote sustainable practices. By offering visitors a refillable water bottle, the park is helping to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated by disposable water bottles. It also encourages visitors to stay hydrated while exploring the park's many trails and attractions, which can help prevent dehydration and reduce the risk of heat-related illness.
Overall, Yellowstone's status as the world's first national park, combined with its commitment to sustainability through initiatives like the PATH cobrand bottle program, makes it an important symbol of conservation and stewardship. By visiting and supporting Yellowstone, visitors can help to ensure that this iconic park remains protected and preserved for generations to come.
NPS stands up against single-use plastic
The NPS's mission has expanded over the years to include the management and protection of a wide range of natural and cultural resources, including national parks, monuments, historic sites, and scenic trails. Today, our National Park Service manages 424 units across the United States, welcoming over 312 million visitors annually.
The National Park Service's decision to phase out single-use plastic is an important step towards reducing the environmental impact of our natural landscapes. By eliminating these products, national parks will be able to better protect wildlife and ecosystems and improve the visitor experience. Additionally, the decision has the potential to inspire broader action on this critical issue. As we look to the future, it is essential that we continue to prioritize sustainability in all of our actions, both as individuals and as a society.
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