Grand Canyon Ends Sale of Disposable Drinking Water Containers

Monday, February 06 2012 21:02   Grand Canyon
Visitors to Grand Canyon National Park will no longer be able to purchase drinking water in individual disposable containers inside the park, such as plastic water bottles typically bought at convenience stores or supermarkets.

The ban on the sale of individual disposable containers of water will take place within 30 days under a plan approved Feb. 6, 2012 by National Park Service (NPS) Intermountain Regional (IMR) Director John Wessels.

water_bottle_fillIn their place, free water stations are available in the park to allow visitors to fill reusable water bottles, officials said.

For those visitors not bringing reusable water bottles with them, a variety of reusable, souvenir water bottles are available for purchase at all of the park's major retail outlets, park officials said.

Park concessioners Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts; Xanterra South Rim, L.L.C.; and Forever Resorts; as well as the park's cooperating association and fund-raising partner, Grand Canyon Association, have all developed product lines that provide sustainable alternatives to disposable plastic water bottles, officials said.

Visitors will continue to be allowed to bring individual disposable containers inside the park. The public is asked to drop empty bottles in one of the recycle bins located throughout the park.

The ban covers the sale of water packaged in individual disposable containers of less than one gallon, including plastic bottles and various types of boxes.

The decision is being made to eliminate the waste associated with disposable bottles, officials said.

According to the NPS, such waste comprises an estimated 20 percent of Grand Canyon National Park's overall waste stream and 30 percent of the park's recyclables.

"Our parks should set the standard for resource protection and sustainability," said Wessels. "Grand Canyon National Park has provided an excellent analysis of the impacts the elimination of bottled water would have, and has developed a well-thought-out plan for ensuring that the safety, needs and comfort of visitors continue to be met in the park."

Wessels went on to say that "I feel confident that the impacts to park concessioners and partners have been given fair consideration and that this plan can be implemented with minimal impacts to the visiting public."

Grand Canyon National Park's plan was submitted and approved in accordance with the policy issued by NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis on Dec. 14, 2011.

Under the policy, parks are directed to implement a disposable plastic water bottle recycling and reduction policy. Parks will have the option to eliminate in-park sales - with the approval of the park's regional director - following a thorough analysis of a variety of factors ranging from the cost to install water filling stations, to the cost and availability of BPA-free reusable containers, to potential effects on public safety.

Grand Canyon National Park has experienced increasing amounts of litter associated with disposable plastic bottles along trails both on the rim and within the inner canyon, marring canyon viewpoints and visitor experiences, officials said.

"We want to minimize both the monetary and environmental costs associated with water packaged in disposable containers," said Grand Canyon Superintendent Dave Uberuaga. "We are grateful to the director for recognizing the need for service-wide guidance on this issue and for providing a thoughtful range of options."

A lot of careful thought went into this plan and its implementation, according to NPS Director Jarvis.

"I applaud Grand Canyon National Park for its efforts to reduce waste and the environmental impacts created by individually packaged water. This is another example of The National Park Service's commitment to being an exemplar of the ways we can all reduce our imprint on the land as we embrace sustainable practices that will protect the parks for generations to come."

For more on Grand Canyon's voluntary reusable water bottle program, visit the park's web site at


Related Articles