Today, as part of World Oceans Day and National Ocean Month, the Biden administration announced a series of actions it would be taking to protect our oceans. Among them: the designation of a new national marine sanctuary to preserve the Hudson Canyon, the initiation of efforts to create a U.S. Ocean Climate Action Plan, and the phaseout of single-use plastics in national parks and other public lands, which would reduce the procurement, sale, and distribution of single-use plastic products and packaging in 423 national parks, including 88 ocean and coastal parks. The move comes on the heels of a letter sent last year by over 300 organizations and businesses, urging U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to ban the sale and distribution of plastic foam products and other unnecessary single-use plastic items — including bottles, bags, cups, plates, bowls and utensils — in these protected areas.
Oceana’s plastics campaign director, Christy Leavitt, released this statement following today’s announcement:
“Our national parks, by definition, are protected areas — ones that Americans have loved for their natural beauty and history for over a century — and yet we have failed to protect them from plastic for far too long. The Department of the 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. We applaud President Biden and U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for recognizing the devastating impact single-use plastic is having on our planet and taking meaningful action to keep this persistent pollutant out of our oceans and communities. We urge the secretary and Interior Department to move swiftly to carry out these changes to protect our parks from single-use plastic.”
A recent Oceana poll found that 82% of American voters would support a decision by the National Park Service to stop selling and distributing single-use plastic at national parks. Eighty-three percent agreed that it is important that national parks remain free of plastic trash, and 76% agreed that single-use plastic items have no place in national parks.
An estimated 33 billion pounds of plastic enter the marine environment from land-based sources every year — roughly the equivalent of dumping two garbage trucks full of plastic into the ocean every minute. On top of plastic’s harmful impacts to marine life, plastic has now been found in our water, our food, our soil, our air and our bodies, and scientists are still learning how this may be affecting human health. Recycling alone will not solve this problem — only 9% of the plastic waste ever generated has been recycled, and companies continue to push new plastic products onto the market. With plastic production growing at a rapid rate, increasing amounts of plastic can be expected to flood our blue planet with devastating consequences.
To learn more about Oceana’s campaign to stop plastic pollution, please visit usa.oceana.org/plastics