SeaWorld continues its brand makeover to focus on conservation with the next logical step – eliminating plastic bags from its theme parks. This move will keep 4 million plastic bags out of landfills annually, a great change since paper bags decompose in weeks, where plastic bags can take decades. Park gift shops will offer paper bags made from 100 percent recycled paper or guests can choose to purchase reusable bags. The transition should be completed within the next year

“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.

Do you applaud SeaWorld for making this move or will you miss the plastic bag option?