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Saguaro Nat'l Park bans sales of bottled water

Park hopes to cut down on recyclable waste in landfills

Saguaro National Park will no longer use vending machines that dispense water and soda in disposable plastic bottles, the park announced Wednesday.

The move is an effort to stem the amount of recyclable waste going into landfills, said Natalie Luna Rose, Saguaro National Park's spokeswoman.

The ban went into effect Monday.

“The use of disposable plastic bottles has significantly greater environmental impacts compared to the use of local tap water and refillable bottles," said park Superintendent Darla Sidles in a press release.

“Implementing this action will help the park reduce its environmental footprint," she said.

The park has introduced water-filling stations that are located at at each visitor center and the Rincon Mountain District bike ramada. Refillable water bottles can be purchased at the visitor centers starting at $1.99, Rose said.

“Considering water from the vending machine costs $1.25, $1.99 is a bargain. Besides, these reusable bottles are attractive and people can take them wherever they go next," Sidles said in the press release.

According to the EPA, more than 1.1 billion pints of bottled water were sold in the United States in 2011. The agency estimates that less than 15 percent of those plastic water bottles are recycled with the rest going into landfills or discarded as litter.

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Saguaro National Park recycled 61,500 pounds of plastic and aluminum in 2010, Rose said.

With the ban on bottled beverage sales, the park will save time and transportation costs and can eliminate as much as 40 percent of what is now recycled — about 15 percent of the park's total waste, Rose said.

Earlier this month, Grand Canyon National Park banned sales of beverages in plastic bottles from the park and added water-filling stations at trails, lodges and visitor centers along the South and North rims of the canyon.

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Saguaro National Park has banned the sale of bottled water and has added several water-filling stations for reusable bottles.