Depending on which you source you use, it appears administrators at the Grand Canyon National Park may have been influenced by the Coca Cola corporation to stop a proposed ban on sales of disposable plastic water bottle sales within the park. They are the largest single source of garbage in the park, according to the LA Times.
Success in reducing plastic water bottles at another national park (Zion) occurred when free water stations were installed, so visitors can re-fill their own water bottles. The same kind of water stations were installed for visitors at the Grand Canyon and tax payer expense, but then the administrators didn’t follow through with banning disposable plastic water bottle sales.
It appears the reason is due to the fact Coca Cola would have lost money selling Dasani to the park’s visitors, and banning disposables at the Grand Canyon could have set a precedent for doing so across the national park system. A much larger ban could have caused Coca Cola even more revenue loss, and they have donated millions to the park system.
Disposable plastic water bottles are problematic for a number of reasons, and they need to be eliminated or reduced greatly, especially in our national and state parks,which are supposed to be natural and trash-free. “Americans use about 50 billion plastic water bottles yearly, 167 for each person. About 38 billion end up in the landfills. End-to-end they would circle the equator 217 times. Making them uses ~20 billion barrels of oil and creates more than 25 million tons of CO2,” says the Department of the Interior website.
The proposed ban would have allowed visitors to have their own disposable plastic water bottles, but prohibited sales of them inside the park. This approach sounds like a sensible one for reducing plastic water bottle trash there – even a compromise compared to banning their presence altogether.
Even a large park vendor management company has said they want a ban on such petroleum-based plastic bottles in all national parks, “We’re of the mind that the clock is ticking on petroleum-derived plastic. There should be a biodegradable alternative. It’s bad for the earth, it’s bad for the oceans, its bad for ecosystems. This is a lose-lose proposition.” (Source: New York Times)
You can do your part by not buying water in disposable plastic water bottles – especially in national and state parks.
Image Credit: Matthewdikmans