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Interior Department to look for ways to reduce single-use plastic on public lands

Plastics can be hard on fish and wildlife populations, and recycling programs have done little to solve the problem.

But the U.S. Department of Interior has taken steps to reduce single-use plastics.

Last week, Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland announced that her department would look for ways to phase out single-use plastics on public lands by 2032.

The goal is to find other materials for the bottles, straws, cups and plastic bags that are frequently discarded and find their way into the ecosystem.

Nick Mallos, of the Ocean Conservancy, said that 11 million metric tons enter the ocean each year.

"And to put that into perspective, that is more than a garbage truck of plastic every minute," Mallos said.

Mallos said that a single food wrapper lost in the Grand Canyon can travel hundreds of miles and ultimately wind up in the ocean.

Ron Dungan was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2024.