On June 8, 2022, World Oceans Day, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland made a historic move and issued a Secretarial Order, which will phase out the procurement, sale, and distribution of single-use plastic products and packaging across the entire Interior Department by 2032. This order covers all 423 units in the National Park System, including 88 ocean and coastal parks, as well as wildlife refuges, national monuments, Bureau of Land Management lands, and other public lands.
The Interior Department’s single-use plastic ban will curb millions of pounds of unnecessary disposable plastic in our national parks and other public lands. This is a big step forward in turning the tide of plastic pollution, and we need the Interior Department to move quickly to carry out these changes. This week, Oceana and more than 200 other organizations and businesses sent a letter to Secretary Haaland thanking her for her bold leadership within the federal government to reduce single-use plastic and calling for a faster phaseout timeline. The letter outlines ways the Interior Department can speed up the timeline, prioritize reuse and refill systems, and steer away from using harmful alternatives.
As plastic pollution continues to threaten our parks, communities, oceans, and climate, there is no time to waste. Plastic has now been found everywhere, in the deepest ocean depths to remotest of mountains, in the rain that falls in our national parks, in the food we eat, and in our bodies. Most plastics are made from petrochemicals derived from fossil fuels, and if plastic were a country, it would be the fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Recycling alone will not solve this problem, since less than 6% of the plastic waste generated in the U.S. is recycled. With plastic production continuing to grow at a rapid rate, increasing amounts of plastic can be expected to contaminate our planet and our communities for the foreseeable future. Yet, the solution is very clear: We must reduce the production and use of single-use plastics, and we must do it as quickly as possible!