Why Has Donald Trump Ended the National Parks Plastic Bottle Ban?

A recent study dictates that of the 9 billion excess tons of plastic produced since 1950, most of it is still around. Since only about 2 billion of it is actually still in use, that leaves a vast majority of it collected in waste sites or, alas, littered on road sides, city streets, and other highly-populated areas like tourist attractions and national parks.

When Obama was President, environmental regulation reform was an important issue. As such, the Obama Administration made many efforts to help implement new measures that would ensure a clean environment for generations to come.

Also concerned with the preservation of the National Parks System, the Obama Administration implemented a policy which allowed for national parks to ban the sale of plastic water bottles in an effort to cut down on plastic litter.

Now, to offset the sudden elimination of these water bottles, Park Services spent several million dollars to install water stations. The water industry fought back, of course, since it seemed that the National Parks were still allowing the sale of sugary beverages from vending machines, etc.

The National Park Service agrees that this is a flawed policy, supporting a statement made by International Bottled Water Association vice president of communications Jill Culora, who says the policy was originally established to reduce waste, “but people coming to the parks that banned the sale of bottled water were still allowed to buy other less healthy beverages…which are packed in heavier plastics, glass, cans, and cardboard containers.”

Now, on the other side of this debate is the bottled water industry, which does about $11 billion in sales in the US, every year.  With Americans now buying more bottled water than soda, the cutback at such popular areas could do some serious damage.

But it looks like President Trump is reversing the “ban”.

While the Corporate Accountability International nonprofit weighed in saying, “The [bottled-water] industry has lobbied Congress to block this policy for years,” spokesperson Jesse Bragg makes sure to note that the bottled water industry has also lobbied directly with the US Department of the Interior, which manages the National Park Service. As a matter of fact, the CAI comments that the recently appointed Trump administration deputy secretary has ties with a law firm which represents one of the biggest bottle water sellers in the US. Bragg laments that this is an “example of the industry pulling the strings behind the scenes to protect its profits.”

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