WASHINGTON D.C.: The U.S. Interior Department said that it will phase out single-use plastic products on public lands, including in national parks, by 2032.
Amidst faltering recycling efforts, the move aims to tackle a major source of U.S. plastic waste.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland issued an order calling on the agency to reduce the procurement, sale and distribution of single-use plastic products and packaging on 480 million acres (1.9 million square kilometers) of Interior Department-managed lands by 2032.
The move is part of a broader package of announcements from the Biden administration recognizing World Ocean Day.
The Interior Department said the ocean absorbs a vast amount of plastic pollution, totaling more than 14 million tons per year, adding that plastic makes up 80 percent of all marine debris found on the surface.
“The Interior Department has an obligation to play a leading role in reducing the impact of plastic waste on our ecosystems and our climate,” said Haaland.
The announcement comes after the Interior Department has, for years, been urged to eliminate single-use plastics in more than 400 U.S. national parks.
Last October, a bill was introduced by Oregon’s Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Mike Quigley aimed at banning the sale and distribution of single-use plastics in parks.
Staff were also asked by the Interior Department to identify alternatives to single-use plastic products, such as compostable or biodegradable materials, or 100 percent recycled materials.
Christy Leavitt, plastics campaign coordinator at conservancy group Oceana, which has been pushing for a plastic ban for years, said, “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 and the oceans and waterways in and around them.”