The order comes on World Ocean Day and also exactly six months since President Joe Biden’s executive order for federal agencies to reduce waste and support the recycling market.
“The Interior Department has an obligation to play a leading role in reducing the impact of plastic waste on our ecosystems and our climate. As the steward of the nation’s public lands, including national parks and national wildlife refuges, and as the agency responsible for the conservation and management of fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats, we are uniquely positioned to do better for our Earth,” Haaland said in a statement. “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.”
Materials made of bioplastic, composite, paper, aluminum, glass, and even 100% recycled plastic will still be allowed at the parks, according to the order. Plastics have been singled out because only 10% are recycled, according to the order’s press release. Over 14 million tons of plastic wind up in the ocean every year, making up 80% of all trash.
Haaland’s order is also a reversal of former President Donald Trump’s attempt to loosen previous plastic bottle policies. When 23 out of 417 national parks implemented bans on plastic water bottle sales, then-acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds, appointed by Trump, encouraged parks to let visitors use whatever material they wished. This latest order is much stricter and includes food packaging, bags, and cutlery.