US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Wednesday issued an order moving all agency properties to phase out plastic containers within a decade.
The order affects all national parks, lake shores, monuments and other properties operated by the Home Office.
In Northland which includes Voyageurs National Park, Isle Royale National Park, Apostle Islands National Shoreline, Grand Portage National Monument and other highly visited areas.
Order No. 3407 seeks to reduce “the supply, sale, and distribution of single-use plastic products and packaging with the goal of phasing out single-use plastic products by 2032.” These include plastic and polystyrene food and drink containers, bottles, straws, cups, cutlery and disposable plastic bags that are designed or intended to be used once and thrown away.
The order also directs the department to identify non-hazardous and environmentally preferable alternatives to single-use plastic products, such as compostable or biodegradable materials or 100% recycled materials.
“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 during the announcement, adding that the order “will ensure departmental sustainability plans include bold actions on phasing out single-use plastic products as we seek to protect our natural environment,”
The United States National Park Service manages an average of nearly 70 million pounds of trash per year. Plastic accounts for half of the waste in Yellowstone National Park. According to the non-profit group Environment America, four out of five visitors surveyed said they would support banning single-use plastic bottles in parks.
“Single-use products such as cups and foam containers have no place in our precious outdoor spaces. We thank Secretary Haaland for setting an inspiring goal to eliminate plastic waste, but 2032 is too long to wait for plastic-free parks,” said Kelsey Lamp, campaign manager for Environment America. “We urge the Biden administration to put wildlife above trash and move even faster on this great initiative.”
Plastic waste is a priority environmental problem, Interior Ministry officials noted. Less than 10% of the plastic ever produced has been recycled and recycling rates are stagnating.
The announcement was made on World Oceans Day.
“Plastics, including unnecessary and easily replaced single-use plastic products, are devastating fish and wildlife around the world,” the agency said in the statement. “Of the more than 300 million tonnes of plastic produced each year for a wide variety of applications, at least 14 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean each year and plastic accounts for 80% of all marine debris found in surface waters to deep-sea sediments.