Some state lawmakers are taking aim at plastic litter and pollution in Washington state with bills aimed at banning plastic straws, single use plastic bags, and regulating plastic packaging on everything from toys to medical products. The sponsor of HB 1204 to make businesses accountable for what happens to plastic packaging and HB 1205 to ban single use plastic bags statewide debated both proposals with a colleague from across the aisle who also sits on the House Environment and Energy Committee.
“Industry estimates and I think these are pretty well accepted estimates that the citizens of the state of Washington use up to as many as two billion, that’s with the “B”, bags per year. So let’s… and even if you don’t believe that estimate I say well let’s cut that estimate in half or we can cut that in half again and five hundred million of these single use plastic bags a year is an obscene amount of plastic. So we need to do our part It kind of reminds me of the Sesame Street skit when I was a little kid where each person walks by and drops a little piece of garbage on the ground and then you turn around and there’s a giant pile of garbage but everybody says well I didn’t do that,” said Rep Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds.
“I was able to get passed the first city wide ordinance on plastic bags in the state. Since then now we have I think 23 or 24 ordinances. So I think it’s about time that the state, that we look at this statewide to get rid of those and this is those kind of flimsy single use plastic bags that end up in our water supply, really interfere with our recycling stream, with all of the composting that we like to do here in the state of Washington, so a lot of negatives to these single use flimsy plastic bags and I think we have a real opportunity to really have the best legislation in the country when it comes to I think a really simple thing that we can do to reduce litter, plastic pollution both in our waterways and really across the state,” said Peterson.
Republican State Representative Mary Dye disagrees.
“We had not too many years ago similar legislation that banned paper bags for shopping and so you know we never can seem to get satisfied with how we deal with the merchandise after we’ve made the purchase and to try and to a kind of a legislative fix to something that I think works better in the marketplace where you know consumers have been given choices and depending upon the use they may find that you know plastic is more usable that they can reuse it for other uses multiple times within the home, for example to line your trash bins or to pick up some of the remnants after following your pet for a walk. There’s 80% of the plastic bags are reused for multiple purposes within the home so in reality, you know I think that there is consumer awareness I think that there is awareness at the industry level, but it has found its economic niche where it’s appropriate and I don’t believe that we need to come in from Olympia and dictate or tell people in retail and also homeowners and families exactly what products they will never have access to,” said Rep Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy.
“You know it’s part of our food system that our food is prepared for us in advance in large processing and so in order to keep our food safe and healthy and not have waste that’s why we’re developing these products in order to transport those products in good condition to the to the end user, to consumer. so you know in that regard that’s how these technologies are developed and I also think that we can ,because plastics have a lot of technology involved in them ,we can come up with those technological solutions to make those products easier without having a mandated bill and those proper processes are taking place all the time within the industry to make sure that our products have , have some component of compost ability or reusability or recyclability. So in that regard I think that we always kind of jump in as a me too when we’re legislators to come in after the issue while the industry is well ahead of us on those things,” said Dye.
The two representatives also have different views on the bill to regulate businesses that sell, make, import or own the brand name of products that are packaged in plastic.
Peterson said, “This is a hugely complicated bill and I and I get this. I can’t remember what the page count on this bill is, but it’s big. So this is really a first step and having these conversations on whose, who’s responsibility-is it a shared responsibility for manufacturers as well as and consumers to reduce that use? Right now it’s really just on the end user to reduce that use. I think we can move up that food chain and start having these conversations with manufacturers and see what they come back with. How is it going to affect Amazon can they reduce their use of plastic packaging? I think they can when you get something that’s made of plastic and it’s wrapped in plastic and then it’s wrapped in bubble wrap, I think those are the kind of conversations that this bill will help to inspire so we can all be talking about that from the manufacturer all the way to the end user and that’s what this bill wants to do.”
Rep. Dye responded,“Carbon footprint packaging versus transfer, we have an online marketplace and that is going to be the new form of retail and it’s going to continue to grow and packaging is very critical to that industry to be successful to get the products to the consumer in good condition.”
The Governor signed the first bill of 2019 which modifies the state’s deadly force statute, just months after voters approved changes with Initiative 940. Some stakeholders in law enforcement say it represents a promise kept by advocates for change who sponsored the initiative. House Bill 1064 reflects changes that were included as part of a legislative compromise bill which was passed last year, but later ruled unconstitutional. Although a number of large law enforcement unions and organizations support the new legislation others such as the Council of Metropolitan Police and Sheriffs have voiced concerns about the bill.
This week a replacement for the vacant seat 40 Legislative District was selected. Anacortes City Council Member Liz Lovelett will take over vacancy left by the resignation of Sen. Kevin Ranker.