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US Interior managed lands to phase out single-use plastics by 2032

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FILE - Harter's Green Circle Recycling, located in La Crosse's industrial park on the north side.

The US Secretary of Interior announced a plan to phase out single-use plastic on Department-manged lands by 2032.

The order, announced Wednesday, which was World Ocean Day, will also reduce the procurement, sale and distribution of single-use plastic products and packaging. Interior lands include public lands and minerals, national parks and wildlife refuges.

It also directs the Interior — over the next 13 years, when the order goes into effect — to find non-hazardous, environmentally “preferable” alternatives, the department’s news release states. It says those materials could possibly be compostable, biodegradable or 100 percent recycled materials.

A Wisconsin law under former Gov. Scott Walker banned communities from banning plastic bags locally — often called the plastic bag ban ban.

Less than 10 percent of the plastic that have ever been produced have been recycled.

Recycling rates are not increasing. Plastics, including unnecessary and easily substituted single-use plastic products, are devastating fish and wildlife around the world.

Oceans are downstream of all pollution sources and bear the brunt of the impacts.

Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year for use in a wide variety of applications, and at least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Plastic makes up 80 percent of all marine debris found from surface waters to deep-sea sediments.

Marine species ingest or are entangled by plastic debris, which causes severe injuries and death. Plastic pollution threatens food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism and contributes to climate change.

Bags made of paper, bioplastics and composite can replace single use plastic bags, as can reusable cloth or thicker plastic alternatives. Bottles made of bio-based plastic, glass and aluminum, and laminated cartons can replace single use plastic bottles, as can reusable bottles made of glass, aluminum or stainless steel.

Similar materials can replace single use plastic in food packaging, beverage cups, tableware, and other products, giving the Interior Department a range of options to consider in this effort to account for the variety of geographic locations and social contexts in which Departmental facilities operate.

The announcement by Interiro Secretary Deb Haaland is part of a President Joe Biden executive order (14057), which calls for federal agencies to minimize waste and support markets for recycled products.

“The Interior Department has an obligation to play a leading role in reducing the impact of plastic waste on our ecosystems and our climate,” Haaland said in a statement. “As the steward of the nation’s public lands, including national parks and national wildlife refuges, and as the agency responsible for the conservation and management of fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats, we are uniquely positioned to do better for our Earth. Today’s Order will ensure that the Department’s sustainability plans include bold action on phasing out single-use plastic products as we seek to protect our natural environment and the communities around them.”

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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