Teaming Up to Keep Park Waste Out of Landfills
By The National Park Service
More than 300 million people visit the national parks each year, bringing in and generating nearly 70 million tons of trash. The National Park Service (NPS) is faced with managing all that waste – everything from plastic to food to discarded camping gear and much more.
The NPS, National Parks Conservation Fund (NPCA), National Park Foundation (NPF) and Subaru collaborated to create the multi-year “Don’t Feed the Landfills” initiative at three pilot parks – Denali, Grand Teton and Yosemite. Since the program’s launch in 2015, more than 16 million pounds of waste have been kept out of landfills, which is equivalent to one million garbage trucks.
It (really) takes a village
Customizing waste reduction solutions with community partners for each park greatly contributes to the program’s success, including Grand Teton Lodge Company, Signal Mountain Lodge, Yosemite Hospitality, Aramark, Doyon Limited Aramark, Denali Education Center and Nature Bridge.
Another critical driver is connecting with the millions of people that visit national parks – as they plan their trips, while they are in parks and after – about waste challenges and what they can do to help.
Additionally, providing nearly 1,000 clearly labeled recycling containers in high-traffic areas makes it easier for visitors to correctly sort and recycle while encouraging the use of reusable items to help reduce single-use plastic bottles and bags, and coffee cups.
The success of the “Don’t Feed the Landfills” Initiative in the three pilot parks created a road map that can be shared with other national parks.
"The Subaru ZLI partnership with the NPS is designed to investigate ways to significantly reduce waste going to landfills. Over the course of this project, the NPS benefitted greatly from the lessons that we learned and the relationships that we established. And this work will enable us to help many other parks in their efforts to be better stewards of our National Parks.,” said Shawn Norton, Branch Manager for the NPS Sustainable Operations and Maintenance Branch of the Park Facility Management Division.
Video: See how Subaru and the NPS reduce park waste
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