Reducing Single-Use Plastic Pollution

Implementing Secretary’s Order 3407, Department-Wide Approach to Reducing Plastic Pollution  

Plastic marine debris next to ocean.

Issued on June 8, 2022, 

 aims to reduce the procurement, sale and distribution of single-use plastic products and packaging with a goal of phasing out all single-use plastic products on Department-managed lands by 2032. SO 3407 is part of the implementation of President Biden’s Executive Order 14057, which calls for federal agencies take actions to reduce and phase out procurement of single-use plastic products to the maximum extent practicable.    

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.  

Key Action Areas

Providing Additional Water Bottle Filling Stations  

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  

Recycling and Waste Diversion 

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. 

Partnering with Commercial Service Providers  

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:  

  • Yosemite National Park eliminated sales of all single-use plastic beverage containers in 2022. The park is also taking strides to reduce use of plastic wrap and plastic packaging and promote reusable water bottles.   
  • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is updating its acquisition and grants policies to incorporate sustainable operations and reduction of single-use plastic products.   
  • The Bureau of Indian Education is developing guidance to limit the purchase of single-use plastics by its employees via government purchase cards.    
  • The National Park Service (NPS) revised the criteria it uses to select concession contracts to include evaluation of sustainable practices like energy conservation and waste including education on how to reduce procurement and use of single-use plastics.    
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is revising its concession policy with the intent of removing single-use plastics from all concession operations. The FWS has committed to eliminate sales of single-use plastic bottles at 25% of national wildlife refuge and national fish hatchery visitor centers by the end of 2024.  
  • In their Sterling, VA, location, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management eliminated single-use plastic containers from vending machines. 
Cleanup of Plastic Marine Debris 

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.    

Messaging to Shift Public Behavior

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.     

Sustainable Procurement Plans 

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: 

  • Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs

    • 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. 

  • Bureau of Indian Education

    • 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.  

  • Bureau of Land Management

    • 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.   

  • Bureau of Reclamation

    • 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. 

  • Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement/Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

    • 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. 

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    • 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. 

  • National Park Service

    • 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. 

  • Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement

    • 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. 

  • U.S. Geological Survey  

    • 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. 

  • Stewart Lee Udall Building

    • At its Washington, DC, headquarters, the Department is analyzing recycling contracts to determine how single -use plastics are being processed, collaborating with tenants on reducing single-use plastic products and including requirements in the scope of a new cafeteria contract to require recycling/composting and provide compostable disposable products. 

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. 

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