Testimony in support of SB 5397, the Product Stewardship Bill

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Bruce Speight, Environment Washington Director

Environment Washington

Good morning. Chair Carlyle, members of the committee, my name is Bruce Speight and I am the Director of Environment Washington, a statewide, membership-based environmental advocacy organization. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today in support of SB 5397, the Product Stewardship Bill.

We support this bill because it will improve recycling in Washington State. People want to recycle. We have spent decades educating people that recycling is a good thing to do for the environment.

And because of public pressure about plastic pollution and concerns about the growth of plastic production globally, many major brands see the value of having the packaging for their product be recyclable and having recycled content. In recent months, companies such as Coca Cola and Unilever, to name a few, have announced sustainability goals that include commitment to the use of large percentages of recycled plastic content in their packaging.

This bill would create a consistent and comprehensive system for the whole state, and yes it will be big and complex – but that is what we need to deal with the magnitude of the problem.

Just last month, the CEO of Recology, a major recycling company with facilities in Washington announced that they are willing to put in $1 million to support a plastic packaging stewardship initiative in California. That shows how much they think this is needed to address our recycling crisis. He stated the following in a Christmas Eve op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle: “I do feel we are nearly out of time, as the planet’s oceans and wildlife are increasingly overrun by plastic waste. If the plastics industry is unable to step forward with a set of policies and programs that reverses these unfortunate trends, Recology will work to place a comprehensive policy on the next statewide California ballot — building off the EU model. We are prepared to commit $1 million toward a signature-gathering effort to that end and will work with all who are willing to move this effort forward.”

SB 5397 does exactly what he is proposing. And it would be a significant step in helping improve our recycling system here in Washington. We want to reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic packaging domestically and not send it to the landfill.