Blocking Of Plastic Bottle Ban Spurs Protests

December 05, 2011

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Grand Canyon officials had all but banned plastic bottles when the nation’s parks director blocked the plan. Now environmentalists are fired up after hearing reports the decision was influenced by Coca-Cola.

Since the blocked ban was brought to light, more than 90,000 people have signed a petition to ban plastic water bottles in national parks.

Stiv Wilson launched the online campaign.

"My hope behind the petition is to try to get corporate influence out of sustainability policy in the National Park Service," Wilson said.

Coca-Cola contributes to the park foundation and supplies Dasani water to the Grand Canyon.

"The director strongly feels, and has stated several times here, the decision to not implement this ban had nothing to do with financial contributions," National Park Service spokesman David Barna said.

Jude Joffe-Block
Disposable water bottles make up about 30 percent of the total waste stream at the Grand Canyon, according to the park.

Barna says the director was concerned a major park like the Grand Canyon would set a precedent without considering what other parks are doing.

Coca-Cola spokeswoman Susan Stribling says the company did talk with the park foundation when it learned about a potential ban.

"We want to ensure people have a choice for how they consume water and other beverages in the parks," Stribling said. "By eliminating one option, whether that be bottled water or a water fountain or whatever, you’re not giving people a choice."

Instead of banning disposable water bottles, Coke would like to see more recycling programs in the parks.