Earlier this week National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis signed a policy to allow national park superintendents to discontinue the sale of water in disposable plastic bottles.
"Sustainability is a signature effort for the National Park Service," Director Jarvis said. "We must be a visible example of sustainability, so it is important that we move our sustainability program forward as an organization."
The policy came about after two national parks had discontinued the sale of water in disposable plastic bottles and more parks sought to do the same. Director Jarvis said the subject of disposable plastic bottles affects the entire national park system and warranted a national policy.
The policy addresses recycling, reduction of the sales of disposable plastic water bottles through visitor education as well as the end of the sales of these bottles if superintendents (1) complete a rigorous impact analysis including an assessment of the effects on visitor health and safety, (2) submit a request in writing to their regional director, and (3) receive the approval of their regional director.
Education is a big part of the policy. Parks will develop a proactive visitor education strategy that addresses visitor expectations and explains the rationale for whatever plastic bottle reduction, recycling, or elimination effort is implemented. This includes information about the environmental impact of purchasing decisions and the availability of reasonably priced reusable bottles which can be filled at water fountains or bottle refill stations.
You can click here to read more about the new policy.
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