The park’s plan calls for the elimination of the sale of water packaged in individual disposable containers of less than one gallon, including plastic bottles and various types of boxes. The waste associated with disposable bottles comprises an estimated 20 percent of the park’s overall waste stream and 30 percent of the park’s recyclables.
Grand Canyon National Park’s plan was submitted and approved in accordance with the policy issued by NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis on December 14, 2011. Under the policy, parks are directed to implement a disposable plastic water bottle recycling and reduction policy, with an option to eliminate in-park sales – with the approval of the park’s regional director – following a thorough analysis of a variety of factors ranging from the cost to install water filling stations, to the cost and availability of BPA-free reusable containers, to potential effects on public safety.
Regional Director Wessels said, “Our parks should set the standard for resource protection and sustainability. Grand Canyon National Park has provided an excellent analysis of the impacts the elimination of bottled water would have, and has developed a well-thought-out plan for ensuring that the safety, needs and comfort of visitors continue to be met in the park," he said. "I feel confident that the impacts to park concessioners and partners have been given fair consideration and that this plan can be implemented with minimal impacts to the visiting public," Wessels added.
Grand Canyon National Park has experienced increasing amounts of litter associated with disposable plastic bottles along trails both on the rim and within the inner canyon, marring canyon viewpoints and visitor experiences.
“We want to minimize both the monetary and environmental costs associated with water packaged in disposable containers,” said Grand Canyon Superintendent Dave Uberuaga. “We are grateful to the Director for recognizing the need for service-wide guidance on this issue and for providing a thoughtful range of options.”
“A lot of careful thought went into this plan and its implementation,” said Director Jarvis. “I applaud Grand Canyon National Park for its efforts to reduce waste and the environmental impacts created by individually packaged water. This is another example of The National Park Service’s commitment to being an exemplar of the ways we can all reduce our imprint on the land as we embrace sustainable practices that will protect the parks for generations to come.”