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National Park Service Waste System Audits

National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) | , WY | Completed: 2015

The National Park Service (NPS) manages a system that includes 408 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state and many US territories. NPS manages the largest number of constructed assets of any civilian agency in the Federal Government, including over 67,000 structures, more than 4 million acres of maintained landscapes, 17,000 miles of trails, and more than 3,000 utility systems. NPS has set a goal to divert 50 percent of solid waste from landfills by 2015 through recycling and other practices. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is an independent, membership-based organization devoted exclusively to advocacy on behalf of the National Parks System. NPCA retained MSW Consultants to perform waste and recycling audits for three iconic national parks to kick off a pilot Zero Landfill Initiative being funded by Subaru of America. As part of this project, MSW Consultants collaborated with NPS and concessioner personnel to compile waste and recycling generation data, develop a waste and recycling characterization protocol, and perform baseline characterization studies at Grand Teton National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Denali National Park. The project included extensive analysis of material samples from guest-facing and employee-facing areas of the Parks, and identified numerous considerations for improving outreach, education, branding, signage, and a variety of program logistics. The study provided detailed insights needed to guide subsequent initiatives as the Parks pursue their Zero Waste goals.