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The U.S Department of the Interior has announced that by 2032, single-use plastic products will be phased out in public lands and national parks.
The government is taking action to reduce plastic pollution in our country. The plan will help decrease the amount of waste being sent to landfills.
The Interior Secretary, Deb Haaland, has already started removing plastic from public lands covering over 480 million acres. She announced that they would be determining more areas to cover in the future.
The initiative aims to reduce 14 million tons of plastic that are disposed of irresponsibly in public areas and end up in the ocean. Single-use plastics are a major problem that’s only getting worse with time. These include plastic food and beverage containers, straws, cups, bags, and bottles.
During the Trump administration, the government lifted the ban on the use of plastic water bottles in national parks. This decision was met with much criticism, as the initiative has already seen 2 million plastic bottles being reduced every year.
The United States is the largest producer and consumer of plastics in the world. This is at a time when the recycling rate of the country is low, between 5% to 6% in 2021.
According to the Interior Department, municipal solid waste amount to around 80,000 tons in landfills so far in 2022.
“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 explained.
“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.”
The announcement was met with rejoicing by environmental organizations, who are glad that the program will help protect the oceans from pollution. Plastics campaign director at Oceana, Christy Leavitt, said it would be particularly beneficial for the health of sea creatures.
“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 explained.