Today, Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Mike Quigley introduced the Reducing Waste in National Parks Act. If passed, the bill would phase out the sale and distribution of single-use plastic products — including plastic beverage bottles, plastic bags, plastic foodware, and plastic foam items — across all national parks. The National Park Service would have 180 days to establish the guidelines for a program, and then each regional director would implement the plan for parks in their region, following that national blueprint.
Oceana applauded the news, which was announced just a few months after the organization led a sign-on letter calling on Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic in national parks. The letter was signed by over 300 organizations and businesses. Sen. Merkley led a Senate letter in September urging Secretary Haaland to curb single-use plastic pollution in national parks.
In response to today’s announcement, Oceana released the following statement from plastics campaign director Christy Leavitt:
“No one wants to see single-use plastic pollution in our national parks, and there’s no reason we should when sustainable alternatives exist. Single-use plastic products only mar these special places, and their damage can last for centuries despite being used for only a moment. We applaud Sen. Merkley and Rep. Quigley for leading the way toward plastic-free parks and recognizing the critical need for reducing the use of unnecessary single-use plastic in the United States. Plastic has now been found in every corner of the world — our national parks are one corner we should spare from plastic pollution’s detrimental effects.”
An estimated 33 billion pounds of plastic enter the marine environment every year — roughly the equivalent of dumping two garbage trucks full of plastic into the ocean every minute. On top of plastic’s harmful impacts to marine life, plastic has now been found in our water, our food, our soil, our air, and our bodies, and scientists are still learning how this may be affecting human health. With plastic production growing at a rapid rate, increasing amounts of plastic can be expected to flood our blue planet with devastating consequences.
For more information about Oceana’s campaign to end the plastics problem, please visit usa.oceana.org/plastics.