This Week in Olympia: The Rose and Thorn of Plastic Advocacy
Plastic reduction bills see different outcomes at the end of a legislative cutoff week.
One of Environment Washington’s top legislative priorities, the WRAP Act, will not move forward in the legislative session after failing to pass the House floor after a key legislative deadline this week.
The WRAP Act would have used several complementary mechanisms to improve recycling and reduce waste. First, it would have established a producer responsibility system, requiring the companies that actually make packaging decisions to be financially responsible for the end-of-life management of these materials, rather than those costs falling on Washington residents. This model has proven successful around the world, and similar programs have recently been established by state legislatures in California, Oregon, Colorado, and Maine. The WRAP Act would have also created a bottle deposit program in Washington, which has been shown to generate very high recycling rates for beverage containers in many other states across the country. Last, it would have set up more post-recycled content standards for materials, requiring that materials incorporate certain targets of reycled content by certain dates.
Even though industry opposition succeeded in blocking the WRAP Act from advancing past the House floor this year, we know that the WRAP Act has broad support from Washingtonians across the state, including youth, everyday citizens from rural, suburaban, and urban communities, local elected officials, waste managers, and more. Our team looks forward to further public education and engagement to advance these waste reduction policies in future sessions.
While the WRAP Act dying was our “thorn” of the week, our zero waste “rose” was the advancement of HB 1805! After passing the House Floor with unanimous, bipartisan support, the proposed Plastic Reduction Act, sponsored by freshman Representative Sharlett Mena, received a committee hearing in the Senate Environment, Energy, and Technology committee. You can view the recording of the public hearing here. Advocate Pam Clough testified in support of the policy, calling on the committee to support this policy which will make common sense changes to reduce known sources of plastic waste and pollution.