SeaWorld bans plastic bags, straws, lids in parks

The hot item at SeaWorld’s souvenir stands this summer is shaping up to be cloth bags.

Stands across the park were packed Friday with the reusable bags in a variety of designs as the theme park giant announced those will now be the top option there to tote your stuff.  SeaWorld corporate officers on Friday announced that, effective immediately, all of their parks are plastic bag free. They’ve also removed all plastic straws and cup lids from concession stands.

"For a company that says, 'we're about the environment and that's what we do day in and day out,' this is a very simple answer,” said SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Operations Manager Jon Peterson.

The move comes just days after Peterson’s team had to perform emergency surgery on a sea turtle they named Collin after the animal came in with a blockage in its abdomen. That blockage ended up being sea debris made up of plastic.

"This is a very common thing we deal with in rescue day in and day out,” said Peterson.

In a press release Friday, SeaWorld said:

"Recent news and studies have shown alarming consequences of the growing threat of plastics to our oceans and wildlife. The Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, estimates that eight million metric tons of plastics enter the ocean each year, on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate the planet. This prevalence of plastics in the ocean has been making its way into the diets of marine animals that mistake it for food and become sick or even die. 

"Employees at the park said they’d been phasing out the plastic items for some time and had heard few to no complaints from the public so far.

"Paper straws are now available at some of the park’s restaurants, upon request, and reusable souvenir cups are still available as well.

"In the gift shops the new, cloth bags are available starting at $0.99 for a small, $2.99 for a medium, and $7.99 for a large. Those not wishing to buy one of the cloth bags can request a paper bag for $0.10 or simply carry their items out without a bag."

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment theme parks include: Discovery Cove in Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Diego, SeaWorld San Antonio, Busch Gardens Tampa, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and Sesame Place Langhorne.  SeaWorld's water parks include: Aquatica by SeaWorld in Orlando, Aquatica by SeaWorld in San Antonio, Aquatica by SeaWorld in San Diego, Adventure Island in Tampa, and Water Country USA in Williamsburg.