Washington Plastic Packaging Stewardship 2019 (SB 5397 / HB 1204)

May, 2019

Plastic packaging stewardship legislation, Senate Bill 5397House Bill 1204, was introduced in January 2019. SB 5397 was amended into a study bill (ESSB 5397) which Governor Inslee signed into law on May 21, 2019.

Engrossed Second Substitute (ESSB) 5397 required the Department of Ecology to, "through a consultative process with industry and consumer interest, develop options to reduce plastic packaging in the waste stream for implementation by Jan. 1, 2022."

Ecology was required to submit a report to the legislature by Oct. 31, 2020, including the amount and types of plastic packaging sold into the state as well as the management and disposal of plastic packaging; recommendations to "meet the goals of reducing plastic packaging including through industry lead or plastic packaging product stewardship;" as well as how to achieve 100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging in all goods sold in Washington by Jan. 1, 2025, and at least 20% postconsumer recycled content in packaging by Jan. 1, 2025.

Bill History

The Senate Environment, Energy & Technology committee passed a substitute bill (SSB 5397) out of committee; a second substitute bill was heard in Ways & Means Feb. 25, passed out of committee March 1 and was amended into a study bill (ESSB 5397), unanimously passed a March 8 Senate floor vote, was heard in and passed out of the House Environment & Energy committee March 18, passed Appropriations April 8, and passed a House floor vote April 16; the Senate concurred with the House's amendments and the Governor signed it into law May 21, 2019.
Watch video of the January 24 and January 31 hearings on TVW. 

The House Environment & Energy committee heard HB 1204 Feb. 7, 2019 (watch video) but it did not move forward.

More than 45 countries have packaging EPR laws and the U.S. is "the only member nation of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that does not have an industry-financed packaging stewardship program," according to a letter in support of SB 5397 from the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI). "Similar programs have been operating with great success in many areas of the world for more than 30 years, including Belgium, which has achieved an 80% recycling rate for packaging, and in British Columbia, which has achieved a 75% recovery rate."

Watch the NWPSC video on why EPR is a solution for the problem of plastic packaging (YouTube):

Visit the NWPSC's packaging activities page for updates.