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Recycling bins lined up next to each other


Reducing Waste Sent to Landfills

Recycling bins at Grand Teton National Park
NPS Photo


Reducing waste by enhancing infrastructure, education, and environmental stewardship.

With over 300 million annual visitors, there is increasing strain on park resources — particularly waste infrastructure. In one year, the National Park Service (NPS) manages nearly 80 million pounds of waste across the more than 400 park sites. To combat this, the National Park Foundation (NPF) supports solutions to fund waste diversion projects like recycling and composting to help support NPS' goal of diverting 75% of waste from landfills annually.

We do this by funding projects such as:

  • enhancing recycling and composting initiatives
  • infrastructure
  • bin labeling, placement, and accessibility
  • employee and visitor education and interpretation

Program Highlights

Recycling bins in transport for installation
Don't Feed the Landfills

A multi-year waste reduction initiative funded by NPF and our partners, including Subaru of America, Inc., at three national parks – Yosemite, Grand Teton, and Denali – led to new recycling and composting infrastructure, dedicated staff for educational outreach, and marketing and labeling efforts to decrease contamination in recycling bins. Since its 2015 launch, there has been a 32% reduction in waste sent to landfills, keeping 18 million pounds of waste out of landfills while increasing recycling best practices among visitors.

Two children sit and look away, across a long reflecting pool towards the Washington Monument
Recycling on the National Mall

Since 2009, NPF and our partner Coca-Cola have supported recycling efforts at the National Mall and Memorial Parks. From the placement of recycling bins throughout the Mall and education programs on the importance of recycling, to a waste stream analysis that kicked off in 2019, NPF has worked with NPS and partners to improve recycling across the Mall.

A hand reaches out to refill a waterbottle at a bottle refill station in a park
Water Refill Stations

Since 2021, NPF has funded over 98 water refill stations at 17 parks, including Glacier National Park, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and the National Mall and Memorial Parks. This effort is supporting NPS' goal to reduce the single-use plastics coming into parks.

Program Updates