Our national parks were once home to Native People who for thousands of years were the original stewards of these lands. This effort represents a small but important step for the NPS to honor the legacy of Indigenous stewardship and deepen its commitment to a more socially and environmentally just future.
Plastic pollution can be found virtually everywhere.
From the deep ocean to remote mountain wildernesses, from our table salt to our tap water, plastic pollution poses an alarming threat to human health and the environment. It is estimated that the average person is eating a credit card’s worth of microplastic every week.
Petrochemical facilities, and disposal of the plastics that they create, disproportionately harm people of color and low-income communities. Continued efforts by industry to site new plastics facilities in “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana provide a stark case of environmental racism and extensive research shows that incinerators and landfills are more often sited in frontline communities. By reducing single-use plastics, NPS will contribute to the Biden administration’s commitment on environmental justice to hold polluters accountable.
The best way to manage plastic waste is to stop generating it.
Nearly 40% of the plastic produced annually is for single-use plastics and packaging — materials that are made to last forever but designed to be used briefly and thrown away. Plastic production is projected to quadruple between 2014 and 2050, greatly compounding the problem since a meager 9% of all the plastic waste ever generated has been recycled. Plastic water bottles are considered more recyclable than some other plastic products, yet three out of four bottles end up in landfills or incinerators. We cannot recycle our way out of this problem.
Eliminating single-use plastics will reduce plastic pollution and save money for parks, visitors, concessionaires and park partners, while also advancing the Biden administration’s goals for addressing environmental justice and the climate crisis. This request is consistent with the Presidential Plastics Action Plan delivered to the Biden-Harris transition team and Congress on December 8, 2020, which highlights eight executive actions to address the plastic pollution crisis.
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