US to end single-use plastics on public lands and national parks by 2032

The pledge was made as part of World Oceans Day on Wednesday

World Ocean Day: Sea Life staff urge public to reduce plastic pollution to protect marine life

The Biden administration has announced a plan to phase out single-use plastics on public lands and national parks by 2032.

The pledge was made as part of World Ocean Day on Wednesday.

Issued by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, the order will phase out the procurement, sale and distribution of plastic and polystyrene food and beverage containers, bottles, straws, cups, cutlery and disposable plastic bags. It will take effect across America’s 423 national parks, including 88 ocean and coastal parks.

Less than 10 per cent of plastic waste ever produced gets recycled, and rates remain woefully low. Meanwhile plastic production continues to grow unabated.

In 2019, production and incineration of plastic added an estimated 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere – equivalent to 189 coal-fired power plants, according to the Center for International Environmental Law.

By midcentury, the impact on the climate crisis could be around three times greater: with 2.8 gigatons of CO2 annually being added, or 615 coal plants’ worth.

Finding nonhazardous replacements to single-use plastic products like compostable or biodegradable materials, or 100 per cent recycled materials is also part of the plan, according to Interior.

In a statement, Secretary Haaland said: “As the steward of the nation’s public lands, including national parks and national wildlife refuges, and as the agency responsible for the conservation and management of fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats, we are uniquely positioned to do better for our Earth.”

Some 33 billion pounds of plastic enter marine environments from land every year, about the equivalent of dumping two garbage trucks full of plastic into the ocean every minute.

Not only is plastic harmful to fish and marine species, plastic degrades into tiny particle called microplastics which are pervasive in our water, food, soil and air.

Microplastics have also been discovered in the human body, with scientists continuing to investigate what their impacts are on human health.

The Biden administration also rolled out other ocean protections including the designation of a new national marine sanctuary to preserve the Hudson Canyon, a deepwater marine area off the New Jersey coast.

According to polling by the ocean conservation nonprofit, Oceana, 82 per cent of US voters support getting rid of single-use plastics at national parks.

“Our national parks, by definition, are protected areas — ones that Americans have loved for their natural beauty and history for over a century — and yet we have failed to protect them from plastic for far too long,” said Oceana’s plastics campaign director, Christy Leavitt, in a statement.

The Department of Interior’s single-use plastic ban will curb millions of pounds of unnecessary disposable plastic in our national parks and other public lands, where it can end up polluting these special areas.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in