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Saguaro National Park Bans Disposable Plastic Bottles In Vending Machines

Posted On: 3/27/2012

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TUCSON, AZ -- Saguaro National Park will no longer allow sales of disposable bottled water or soda through vending machines on park grounds in an effort to reduce waste. Saguaro is located in southern Arizona, and is home to the endangered Lesser long-nosed Bat and threatened Mexican spotted owl.

Officials say the park has long been committed to recycling plastic and aluminum, which saved 61,500 lbs. of recyclable waste from landfills in 2010 alone. They also cited EPA data that estimates that less than 15% of plastic water bottles are recycled, with the rest destined for landfills or discarded as litter. Additionally, transporting those bottles that are recycled costs money, time and gasoline.

By removing vending machines, park officials claim that they could completely eliminate up to 40% of the bottles that are currently recycled, which accounts for about 15% of the total waste stream.

They determined that the more sustainable solution is to provide water bottle filling stations at which visitors refill their own reusable containers. The park will also sell reusable, BPA-free water bottles in its two visitor centers for $1.99.

"The use of disposable plastic bottles has significantly greater environmental impacts compared to the use of local tap water and refillable bottles," said Saguaro National Park superintendent Darla Sidles. "Implementing this action will help the park reduce its environmental footprint."

Sidles said the cost of a refillable bottle is a bargain when considering bottled water from the vending machine costs $1.25. (Perhaps the bottles could be sold through vending machines?)

Disposable plastic water bottles in vending machines and other points of sale were banned in Grand Canyon National Park late last year. | SEE STORY