For the second year in a row, a litter cleanup survey from U.S. national parks says single-use plastics make up the majority of items found.
The Plastics-Free Parks Trash Blitz, organized by The 5 Gyres Institute over an eight-month stretch, said food wrappers, cigarette butts, wipes, bottles and bottle caps, film and bags were in the top 10 littered items. And it said the top brands it could trace products back to were Marlboro, Camel, Gatorade, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Starbucks and Budweiser.
It did note a possible drop in plastics in the parks, with plastics from packaging making up 66 percent of the material recorded in last year's cleanup data, down from 81 percent in 2022.
But it wasn't sure how to interpret that: It could reflect that some parks, like Yosemite, have cut back on sales of single-use plastic like water bottles, but the report also said the data could be limited.
One thing is sure, though: The report will feed into the ongoing debate in Washington over how the National Park Service should approach plastics and packaging.
In November, House Republicans attached language to a larger budget proposal that would forbid the park service from banning single-use plastic straws.
Last year, the Interior Department announced that NPS and other agencies it oversees had finalized plans to cut back on single-use plastics on public lands. As well, the Biden administration is pulling other procurement strings, floating a plan in December for voluntary cutbacks in single-use plastic buying across all government agencies.