Washington State passes plastic pollution law

graphic of washington senate bill 5022

In a bill signing ceremony at the Seattle Aquarium on May 17, 2021, Governor Inslee signed into law SB 5022 to reduce plastic pollution and improve recycling (final text of the bill as passed).

The new law bans expanded polystyrene (EPS) peanuts, coolers and foodware; requires businesses to provide single-use utensils, cups, lids and other foodware only upon customer request; and ensures that plastic beverage bottles, household cleaning and personal care bottles, plus trash bags, contain minimum levels of post-consumer recycled content. These elements will be phased in from 2022 to 2024.

While Washington is the sixth state in the nation to adopt a statewide ban on expanded polystyrene products, it is also the most far-reaching. The law is also the first in the nation to comprehensively require people to "opt-in" for single-use foodware (utensils, cup lids, and condiments), and the first law to require recycled content in household cleaning and personal care containers.

Read the press release from state Senate Democrats, and the press release from supporting organizations Zero Waste Washington, Environment Washington, Latino Community Fund of Washington, Oceana, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the Seattle Aquarium, and the Surfrider Foundation. NBCThe StrangerKING5Skagit Valley Herald, and the Surfrider Foundation covered the news.