Bottle Ban Suspended After Park Service Official Talks With Donor

Two weeks before Grand Canyon National Park was to impose a ban on the sale of disposable water bottles, national parks director Jon Jarvis tabled the plan after conversations with Coca Cola, a major donor and the distributor of Dasani water, the New York Times reports.

According to the Times, a Coca Cola representative reached out to National Park Foundation president Neil J. Mulholland late in the process with concerns about the ban. While the beverage company did not openly object to the plan or tell the foundation that, were the ban to be enacted, it would reduce or eliminate its support for the park system, Jarvis decided "to put [the ban] on hold until we can get more information," a spokesman for the National Park Service said.

The Grand Canyon had sought the ban as part of its commitment to reduce the number of discarded plastic bottles in the park — plastic bottles account for roughly 30 percent of the park's total waste stream. Although the ban would have included only smaller bottles and would not have applied to other beverages such as soda or juice, a similar program instituted in Zion National Park in 2008 helped eliminate some 60,000 plastic bottles in the first year alone.

Susan Stribling, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola, told the Times that the company would rather help the park address the park's plastic litter problem by increasing the availability of recycling programs. "Banning anything is never the right answer," said Stribling. "If you do that, you don't necessarily address the problem."

Felicity Barringer. "Parks Chief Blocked Plan for Grand Canyon Bottle Ban." New York Times 11/09/2011.