How Big Water is trying to stop the National Park Service from cleaning up plastic bottles

The National Park Service thought it had a good strategy for reining in the discarded water bottles that clog the trash cans and waste stream of the national parks: stop selling disposable bottles and let visitors refill reusable ones with public drinking water.

But Big Water has stepped in to block the parks from banning the plastic pollutants — and the industry found an ally on Capitol Hill to add a little-noticed amendment to a House spending bill that would kill the policy.

As environmental groups and local officials campaign for a sales ban to reduce park waste and carbon emissions, the titans that manufacture Deer Park, Fiji, Evian and 200 other brands of water packaged in disposable plastic have mounted a full-court lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill to stop the Park Service’s latest effort at sustainability.

“We must be a visible exemplar of sustainability,” Jarvis wrote. “When considered on a life-cycle basis, the use of disposable plastic water bottles has significant environmental impact compared to the use of local tap water and refillable bottles.” The impact is magnified in remote parks, which pay a premium for litter removal and waste disposal, he wrote. “We came to realize we were in a sea of plastic water bottles. The garbage cans at some parks were overflowing.”

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