National Aquarium Expands Efforts to Eliminate Single-Use Plastics

Organization has removed disposable plastic products from its food service areas

5/25/2017

As part of its continued commitment to sustainability and ocean conservation, the National Aquarium has eliminated all single-use plastic foodware in its building. The organization has replaced disposable plastic products with reusable, compostable or more sustainable recycling options, including drinks served in refillable containers and aluminum cans.

The transition eliminates the average 85,000 single-use soda and juice bottles previously sold within the building each year. Although these plastics had been recycled in the past, diverting them from landfills and ocean pollution, they still required the use of resources such as electricity, oil and water; with the Aquarium’s expanded efforts, these resources will now be conserved.

“Reducing usage of single-use plastic foodware is a critical first step in keeping plastic out of the ocean,” said National Aquarium Chief Conservation Officer Kris Hoellen. “We hope to both inspire guests to make thoughtful choices, during their visit and beyond, and to create consumer demand for alternative packaging of products. Substantially reducing the source of plastic pollution is crucial to improving ocean and human health.”

All foodware products provided in the organization’s food service locations are now free of single-use plastics. Guests will find beverages in alternative containers and compostable replacements for lids, straws, stirrers and utensils.

This change culminates a multi-year effort to reduce the use of disposable plastics across the Aquarium’s operations. Working closely with on-site partners Sodexo, the Classic Catering People, Pepsi and others, the Aquarium had already eliminated all disposable water bottles, ended the use of plastic bags in the gift shops and eliminated single-use plastics at catering events.

Disposable plastic items easily wash or blow into the ocean, impeding the health of ecosystems and animals. According to environmental experts, there are an estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the ocean, with millions of tons entering the ocean from land each year.

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Conservation