- A new report from Subaru and the National Parks Conservation Association found that a majority of visitors are "unaware of the waste management challenges facing national parks across the country," though 84% are willing to reduce the amount of waste left behind in parks.
- The report found that millennials were less likely than older generations "to do everything they can to help reduce park waste" and more likely to buy food or drink inside parks, which increases waste.
- Subaru also conducted a waste characterization study at three parks with existing recycling pilot programs: Yosemite, Grand Teton and Denali. Water bottles, plastic bags, non-recyclable or compostable food packaging and paper hot cups were the most common waste items.
This report is part of Subaru's ongoing partnership with a variety of stakeholders to promote recycling around the upcoming National Park Centennial. The National Park Service serves more than 300 million visitors per year, who in turn generate more than 100 million pounds of waste.
One of the more controversial efforts to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills was a proposed ban on bottled water sales within parks. According to the Subaru report, 35% of visitors use these bottles but almost 80% said they would support a ban if it reduced waste. This idea has received very strong pushback from the beverage industry.
Overall the Subaru report shows some signs of hope for getting visitors to think about their waste. Yet, as seen in a recent study on food waste, making people aware of the problem doesn't matter if they aren't willing to act on it. The Subaru report found that even though many parks ask visitors to carry out their waste, only 40% of respondents said that they actually do it.