The National Parks have had a long-standing interest in implementing sustainability initiatives. In previous years, for example, the parks put into the place the “Healthy and Sustainable Food Initiative” by increasing the amount of locally sourced food at its concessionaires. In 2015, the Park Service decided to address a different sustainability challenge–the 100 million pounds of trash generated each year by park visitors. They have done this by cooperating with several organizations to make the National Parks Zero Landfill spaces. These organizations include Subaru, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the National Parks Foundation (I donate to the latter 2). Subaru is a logical partner for this effort due to its experience with its zero landfill factory in Lafayette, Indiana.
The program has begun with pilot projects at 3 iconic parks: Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Denali. These three parks alone account for 16.6 million pounds of waste annually. Of this amount, about 6.9 million pounds are diverted from the landfill–the question is how to keep the other 9.7 million pounds out of the landfill as well. The first step is for the National Parks Conservation Association to review the current practices in these parks in terms of recycling, composting, and waste reduction efforts. Subaru’s factory experts on “zero-landfill processes” will also visit these parks. The insight from these assessments will give the park service insights on how to reduce the amount of waste that needs to be landfilled, with the goal of zero waste at all being landfilled.
That is the goal, at least. Whether this effort will truly result in absolutely zero materials being sent to the landfill is an open question; however in all cases, the idea is to have the National Park Service send nothing, or almost nothing, to any landfill–first at these 3 parks, and then hopefully at all of the nearly 300 units in the National Park system.