Don’t Feed the Landfills Initiative: Subaru and National Parks Conservation Association
America’s national parks are its treasures—with stunning scenery and unspoiled nature right there for everyone’s enjoyment. But the parks’ popularity ironically threatens their very existence, as 330 million visitors annually leave behind more than 70 million pounds of waste. Could that waste be recycled, composted, or avoided altogether?
The National Parks Conservation Association and Subaru have decided that the answer is definitely yes and began the Don’t Feed the Landfills Initiative five years ago in three iconic national parks: Denali National Park and Preserve (Alaska), Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming), and Yosemite National Park (California), each of which committed to working internally and with park concessionaires and community partners to help develop, test, monitor and refine approaches to waste reduction tailored to each park’s unique circumstance.
As an automobile company who believes its success comes with the responsibility to continue being more than a car company, Subaru is guided by the Subaru Love Promise, which is the company’s vision to show love and respect to everyone and to support its communities and customers nationwide. As many of its target consumers also support the national parks, Subaru fully committed to this partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the leading nonprofit voice in safeguarding our national parks.
The waste-reduction initiative covers a broad range of activities from data gathering and monitoring to upgrading waste infrastructure to visitor education, employee engagement, and collaborative programs with park concession operators, gateway communities and nearby businesses. From its inception, the initiative has been designed to develop waste-reduction examples and identify best practices that can apply to other units of the National Park System and beyond. Together, Subaru and NPCA document the effort and create scalable zero-landfill implementation plans that other national parks can adopt and supports the pilot parks.
Over the years, Subaru has shared its zero-landfill techniques with hundreds of businesses, schools and organizations in order to benchmark their own zero landfill goals. The Subaru plant, which recycles 99.99% of its waste, shares its expertise in the arts of reduce, reuse and recycle with the pilot parks and their largest concessioners, including, Vail Resorts Grand Teton Lodge Company, Forever Resorts, and Aramark Leisure. Since the initiative’s 2015 launch, the pilot parks, learning from experts at Subaru, have collectively reduced the amount of waste going to landfills at the pilot parks by 30% or over 16 million pounds.
In 2018, the pilot parks saw significant improvement in their diversion rates with all three parks more than doubling the amount of waste diverted from landfills since the 2015/16 baselines were set. The 2019 results are expected to show continued growth.