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Sales of Disposable Bottles Of Water And Soda Banned At Saguaro National Park


Are water-vending machines becoming an endangered species in national parks? NPT file photo.

If you're planning to visit Saguaro National Park in southern Arizona, you might want to bring a reusable water bottle, as the park has banned the sale of disposable bottles of water and soda.

The ban took effect last week, according to a park release.

Similar bans have been put in effect at Grand Canyon National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and Zion National Park.

In that release, park officials noted that, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, "over 1,125,000,000 pints of bottled water were sold in the United States in 2011. The EPA estimates that less than 15 percent of those plastic water bottles are recycled; the rest go into landfills or are discarded as litter."

Saguaro officials have long been committed to recycling plastic and aluminum saving 61,500 pounds of recyclable waste from landfills in 2010 alone. However, transporting  disposable bottles to be recycled also costs money, time and gasoline. The park could eliminate up to 40 percent of what is currently recycled; about 15 percent of the park’s total waste stream, park officials say.

Park officials conducted a thorough analysis of the potential impacts of eliminating the sale of disposable  bottled water and soda, and determined that the more sustainable solution is to provide new  water bottle filling stations for visitors to refill their own reusable containers. 

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

There are new water bottle filling stations located at each visitor center as well as the Rincon Mountain District bike ramada.  BPA-free, reusable water bottles are available for purchase in either visitor center for as little as $1.99.

“Considering water from the vending machine costs $1.25, $1.99 is a bargain,” said Superintendent Sidles. “Besides, these reusable bottles are attractive and people can take them wherever they go next."


We do the same thing here at Oxley Nature Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma. We have resisted installing vending machines for 30 years. A year ago we  installed a water a bottle filling station with a counter on it. So far visitors have refilled the equivalent of 3,300 disposable bottles! We sell souvenir refillable bottles for virtually no profit and only collect sales tax which makes the bottles very inexpensive.

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