Implementing Secretary’s Order 3407, Department-Wide Approach to Reducing Plastic Pollution
Issued on June 8, 2022,
Single-use plastic products include plastic and polystyrene food and beverage containers, bottles, straws, cups, cutlery and disposable plastic bags that are designed for or intended to be used once and discarded.
A priority action across all bureaus and offices is to provide additional water bottle filling stations for staff and visitors. These stations provide a critical alternative to purchasing or bringing along single-use plastic water bottles. SO 3407 accelerated actions to install filling stations that had already been underway for several years, including:
Funded through a public-private partnership, the National Park Service is installing water bottle filling stations at Big Bend National Park, the National Mall, Wolf Trap National Park for the Public Arts, Fort Sumter National Historic Park, Cape Cod National Seashore, Rosie the Riveter National Historic Park and Little Bighorn National Monument. The National Mall, as an example, modified 34 fountains as part of phase one of these installations with two additional phases planned.
The Bureau of Land Management has installed or has ordered water bottle filling stations for use by employees at each State/District/Field Office.
The Bureau of Indian Education has begun modifying school water fountains to include water bottle filling stations and is providing free reusable drinking containers for students.
Water bottle filling stations have been installed on every floor of the Department’s Stewart Lee Udall Building in Washington, DC
The Department collects solid waste and recycling information annually to track progress toward achieving diversion rates for municipal solid waste and construction and demolition debris of at least 50% by 2025, and 75% by 2030 in bureaus and offices. Working with public and private partners, the National Park Service Zero Landfill Initiative supports projects at Denali National Park & Preserve, Grand Teton National Park, and Yosemite National Park with the goal of reducing the amount of waste national parks send to landfills.
The Department is working with food service providers, souvenir vendors and other concessionaires/contractors to reduce sales of single-use plastics on Department-managed lands. From campaigns to be plastic straw free, to eliminating plastic bags in retail stores and single-use toiletry containers in hotel rooms, the Department is working closely with private partners to reduce single-use plastic products through contracting/procurement policies and processes.
While bureaus and offices are at various stages of implementation, exciting examples are emerging, including:
Cleanups regularly take place at coastal national wildlife refuges, islands within marine national monuments, national seashores, and other Department-managed coastal lands that accumulate marine debris, including plastic. The Department works with hundreds of volunteer groups across the country to coordinate litter clean-up events, many of which are on beaches and specifically target plastic pollution. An exciting example in this area is a five-year partnership (2020-2025) between the NPS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program to raise awareness about the sources and impacts of marine debris and encourage individuals to take action to prevent marine plastic pollution, resulting in outreach opportunities in 15 coastal parks.
One of the biggest opportunities for the Department to reduce plastic pollution is in what visitors, clients, and other stakeholders take away from their experiences on DOI-managed lands. All Sustainable Procurement Plans address opportunities to shift public behavior to reduce single-use plastic products, including data collection, education programming, signage, and other informational materials. As an example, the National Park Service’s recently released third edition of its Green Parks Plan provides a framework for meeting sustainability goals including sustainable procurement and phasing out single-use plastics.
A key requirement of SO 3407 is for all bureaus and offices within the Department to have Sustainable Procurement Plans (SPPs) that support the goals of section 208 of Executive Order 14057, including specific approaches and schedules to phase out single-use plastic products, by the end of 2032.
While every SPP was developed to meet the goals outlined in SO 3407, each includes variations to suit circumstances and needs of each bureau and office.
SPPs are now in place for all bureaus and offices and can be accessed by the links below:
The Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs will create procurement and waste stream profiles for each facility/program and intend to begin pilot studies in FY 2024 for one or two regions to evaluate feasible alternatives for phase out of single-use plastics.
The Bureau of Indian Education plans to conduct a pilot study by September 2024 at one to three Bureau-operated facilities to evaluate the feasibility of phasing out single-use plastics and aims to implement phase out strategies for all Bureau-operated schools and administrative facilities starting in FY2025 and for all Tribally controlled schools starting in FY2026.
The Bureau of Land Management will develop policies and conduct pilots aimed at reducing the use of single-use plastics in FY2024 and FY2025 with full implementation of reduction strategies by FY2027, ensuring full elimination of procurement, sale, and distribution no later than FY2032.
The Bureau of Reclamation will analyze current contracts to determine which ones will be most impacted by reduction of single-use plastics and establish an appropriate schedule to engage partners. They also plan to use solid waste data reporting to establish a baseline plastic waste stream assessment.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will evaluate use and needs of single-use plastics by the end of FY2025 and complete action plans for reduction by the end of FY2026.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has begun revisions of its concession policy with the intent of removing single-use plastics from all concession operations. As a first step, FWS will eliminate sales of single-use plastic bottles at 25% of visitor centers at national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries by the end of 2024.
Building on the foundation of its Green Parks Plan and its revised criteria for concessionaire contracts, the National Park Service will leverage completed pilots and demonstration projects, including the National Park Service Zero Landfill Initiative underway at Denali National Park & Preserve, Grand Teton National Park and Yosemite National Park, to begin rolling out Service-wide policy and/or targeted location-specific efforts with a high return on investment.
The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is looking to reduce the acquisition of single-use plastics through incorporating reduction objectives in contracts which provide required products and services.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is updating its acquisition and grants policies to incorporate sustainable operations and reduction of single-use plastic products. In addition, USGS is investigating how to manage single- use plastics used in sampling at its science centers by sending them to a facility where they can be recycled into a raw material.
Bureaus and offices will continue to work collaboratively within the Department, as well as with other agencies and partners, to develop and share best practices and update the SPPs accordingly. Following additional data gathering and analysis, the Department will establish baselines and target metrics to be integrated into annual reporting of progress by all bureaus and offices.