Washington State, not content to rest on its environmental laurels, has a slate of climate conscious bills ready for the 2023 legislative session.  On the heels of the big win for organics diversion in 2022 with passage of HB 1799, Washington will address plastics reduction, battery recycling, extended producer responsibility, the right to repair electronics and questions remaining around HB 1799 implementation. 

HB 1799, Part 8 modified the Plastic Product Degradability Act passed in 2019 (codified at RCW 70A.455).  The increased organics diversion anticipated under HB 1799 will require a significant increase in the use and collection of organics mixed with compostable packaging.  To fully evaluate the challenges and benefits associated with compostable use, Washington State Representative Amy Walen (48th LD), has pre-filed HB 1033 for the 2023 legislative session.  The bill will establish a stakeholder advisory committee to address issues related to the use, collection, and processing of compostable products within the state.  The Advisory Committee will be comprised of representatives from government, compostable product manufacturers, compost manufacturers, certifiers, haulers, a trade association, and an environmental non-profit organization.  The goal will be to produce a report of findings and recommendations to the legislature in 2024. 

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) will return to the legislative session as the Washington Recycling and Packaging (WRAP) Act, sponsored by Representatives Liz Berry (36th LD) and Christine Rolfes (23rd LD).  With recycling rates stagnant and estimated 1.5 million tons of recyclable materials going to state landfills, EPR is a necessary step to reduce waste and increase recycling rates.  The policy requires product manufacturers to accept responsibility, financial and/or physical, for the resultant waste and environmental impact of their products.  The bill will also include elements such as a can and bottle deposit and a minimum recycled content requirement for plastics. 

 Sen. Derrick Stanford (1st Dist.) is sponsoring a bill to require battery recycling by all citizens.  Currently, Washington businesses are required to use battery recycling services, but there is no requirement for individual consumers to do so.  Despite voluntary options and efforts, battery recycling is not mandated or convenient, leaving most of these dangerous and toxic items destined for landfills.  Much like the broader EPR bill, this bill will require battery producers to join a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) and take responsibility for the end-of-life of their products.  Batteries will only be allowed for sale in Washington by manufacturers that are part of a PRO.  It will require creation of convenient battery recycling drop off locations for consumers.  The bill will not mandate battery recycling by individual consumer but aims to encourage recycling and provide more convenient options for recycling. 

A plastic reduction bill will be introduced by Rep. Sharlett Mena (29th LD), designed to facilitate the use of reusable water containers, and reduce plastic pollution in area waters.  The bill would require all new commercial construction to include a water bottle refill station wherever a drinking fountain is currently required. To reduce direct pollution in state waters, the bill would prohibit manufacture, sale and installation of overwater structures that use plastic foam. Lastly, the bill would ban the use of miniature toiletry products for hotel guests in the state. 

A Right to Repair bill, which failed to pass in the 2022 session, will be back on the agenda.  The bill would require certain electronics manufacturers, such as Apple and Microsoft, to make accessible their product manuals, repair information, parts and special tools required to repair their products.  Currently, as anyone who has broken a cell phone knows, repair is nearly impossible short of sending your phone away for an extended period and paying whatever the manufacturer requires for a repair.   The Right to Repair bill will allow consumers to access repair services from independent facilities for products that they own, without being held hostage to the manufacturers’ repair monopoly.

Washington’s legislative session begins January 10, 2023.  The last day of the regular session will be March 10, 2023.  CMA will be monitoring and participating in the session.  Watch you in-box for updates.