Plastic pollution is so prevalent that harmful plastic particles can even be found in drinking water. Robust action on a national scale is needed to stop the flood of plastics into natural environments.
Wednesday, on World Oceans Day, the White House announced its plans to phase out single-use plastic items from US public lands. This includes the enormous span of national parks, about 480 million acres.
The US Department of the Interior will ban the sale of single-use plastics in national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands. The plan will have a hard stop date in 2032. Between now and then, the government will explore more environmentally sustainable materials for water bottles and other packaging.
“We applaud President Biden and US 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,” said Christy Leavitt, plastics campaign director at Oceana, which estimates that 33bn pounds of plastic enter the marine environment every year.
“We urge the secretary and interior department to move swiftly to carry out these changes to protect our parks from single-use plastic.”
Adding more space to protect
The White House also celebrated World Oceans Day by taking steps to name a new marine sanctuary, which would also fall under the plastics protection. The newly protected area is the Hudson Canyon, located about 100 miles off the coast of New York. It is an ecological hub of reefs, whales, and sea turtles.
“This is New York and New Jersey’s Grand Canyon – an ecologically rich area with diverse species including sharks, whales, and dolphins, deep-sea corals, sharks, and birds,” said Simon Cripps, executive director for marine conservative at the Wildlife Conservation Society.
“It is a natural treasure worthy of designation as a national marine sanctuary.”