|Photo courtesy Surfrider Foundation|
Park gift shops will offer paper bags made from 100 percent recycled paper or guests can choose to purchase reusable bags.
"This is a significant change for our company, one we hope will provide a model for our industry overall," said Jim Atchison, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. "Eliminating plastic bags is an important statement about our commitment to the environment, as well as the need to help protect marine animals from debris. It also allows our guests to play a direct part in making a difference on our planet."
This move will keep an estimated 4 million plastic bags from entering landfills and the environment each year. Approximately 1.4 billion tons of trash, including plastic bags, enters the ocean annually. Wildlife such as endangered sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, one of their favorite foods.
The company began exploring the concept at SeaWorld San Diego in 2011, when the park discontinued the use of plastic gift bags to mark the opening of its new Turtle Reef attraction. SeaWorld Orlando is eliminating the bags this month in conjunction with the opening of its new attraction, TurtleTrek.
Opening April 27, TurtleTrek combines naturalistic habitats (sea turtles and manatees) with the world's first 3-D, 360-degree dome theater film. The film immerses guests in a sea turtle's extraordinary journey.
Also adding to the ways park guests can consume responsibly, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and The Coca-Cola Company introduced paper cups for guests made with 85 percent renewable resources as part of a new 10-year partnership. Guests use more than 13 million paper cups each year throughout the 10 parks.
About SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
The company, headquartered in Orlando, Fla., owns and operates SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Antonio, SeaWorld San Diego, Busch Gardens Tampa, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando, Adventure Island in Tampa, Water Country USA in Williamsburg and Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pa. near Philadelphia.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment also is a global leader in animal care and conservation. The company has rescued more than 20,000 orphaned, injured or ill animals over the past four decades and contributed more than $50 million to conservation worldwide. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a portfolio company of Blackstone. www.seaworldparksandentertainment.com