Saguaro National Park has announced they are joining other parks, and universities, in an attempt to reduce plastic waste.
The park, located in Tucson, Ariz., will no longer be providing vending machines containing bottled water or soda in the park.
According to a March 21 press release, the park has made a substantial effort to recycle, having saved 61,500 pounds of recyclable waste in 2010, but is looking to go further.
Saguaro Park looking to "Reduce, ReUse and REFILL."
In lieu of selling bottled water and soda as per an earlier agreement with Pepsi Corporation, the park feels selling reusable water bottles and establishing "hydration stations", in addition to water fountains already in place, which would be more environmentally friendly and more cost-efficient.
“The use of disposable plastic bottles has significantly greater environmental impacts compared to the use of local tap water and re-fillable bottles”, said Superintendent Darla Sidles. “Implementing this action will help the park reduce its environmental footprint”.
Environmentally friendly and cost-efficient
Saguaro National Park says that the costs and efforts associated with the recycling can be better shifted to eliminate waste altogether. The park cited EPA statistics which indicate 1,125,000,000 pints of bottled water were sold in the United States in 2011 and that less than 15 percent of that total is actually recycled, the remainder is tossed as trash and ends up in landfills.
BPA-free reusable bottles will cost approximately $1.99.
“Considering water from the vending machine costs $1.25, $1.99 is a bargain”, states Superintendent Sidles. “Besides, these reusable bottles are attractive and people can take them wherever they go next”.
In addition, the park could eliminate problems such as bees and wasps, attracted to sticky discarded soda containers. The cleanup of waste that is not placed in proper receptacles would also be reduced. One of the cons noted in the analysis was that after-hours visitors who do not bring their own bottles would not have access to beverages and water, however the park is looking at the possibility of selling reusable bottles from a vending machine.
There are three designated water filler locations, including the two visitor centers and the Rincon Mountain District bike ramada.
This announcement coincided with World Water Day 2012.