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The sale of single-use plastic products will be phased out in public lands and national parks by 2032, the U.S. Interior Department announced on Wednesday.
The order is part of the effort to lessen plastic pollution in the country amid decreasing recycling rate.
Deb Haaland, the Interior Secretary, has already put down an order to lessen the sale, distribution, and procurement of plastic and related products on over 480 million acres of public land. The Interior secretary further said that the department would determine more areas to cover in the future.
As per projection, the initiative will trim around 14 million tons of plastic that are disposed of irresponsibly in public areas and ultimately deposited in the oceans. Single-use plastic products include plastic food and beverage containers, straws, cups, bags, bottles, and other products that are immediately disposed of after use.
In a similar initiative started in 2011, national parks banned plastic water bottles, resulting in 2 million water bottles being reduced in landfills and public areas per year. However, the Trump administration ruled out against the ban.
The United States is one of the largest plastic waste producers in the world. This is on top of the declining recycling rate, which fell between 5% to 6% in 2021.
Municipal solid waste reached around 80,000 tons in 2022, the Interior Department reports.
“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.
“Today’s Order will ensure that the Department’s sustainability plans include bold action on phasing out single-use plastic products as we seek to protect our natural environment and the communities around them,” she added.
The announcement made many environmental organizations glad. Christy Leavitt, the plastics campaign director at Oceana, said that it would positively help the environment, particularly the ocean, since most of the waste ends up on the ocean floor, affecting sea creatures and the overall health of the ocean.
“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,” Leavitt said.
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