The U.S. Department of the Interior announced that all bureaus and offices finalized sustainable procurement plans to phase out single-use plastics on public lands within the next decade.
The measure was first announced by President Joe Biden in June 2022, as part of a broader administration effort to improve the health of the oceans. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, who oversees national parks, was responsible for developing the plans. These will be updated in 2024 to include stepdown targets and additional details on where and how single-use plastics will be eliminated.
Since June 2022, national parks, national wildlife refuges, and conservation lands have implemented measures such as installing water bottle filling stations, increasing recycling and working with concessionaires to reduce sales of single-use plastic bottles, as well as use of plastic utensils, bags, straws, and other plastic products.
“The Interior Department has an obligation to play a leading role in reducing the impact of plastic waste on our ecosystems and our climate,” Haaland said Sept. 28 during a White House Summit on Building Climate Resilient Communities. “As the steward of the nation’s public lands, 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. Our department-wide efforts are inspiring bold action to phase out single-use plastic products as we seek to protect our natural environment and the surrounding communities,” she concluded.
The announcement comes after congressional democrats called for the guidelines against single-use plastics in national parks to be turned into federal law, in case of a change in government.