The Washington state capitol building in Olympia.

Washington will explore plastic packaging product stewardship, industry-led efforts and other plastic waste management strategies, under legislation signed by the state’s governor this week.

Gov. Jay Inslee, who is a Democratic candidate for president, on May 21 signed SB 5397, which launches a study of new ways the state can cut down on disposal of plastic packaging.

The legislation calls for 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 January 1, 2022,” according to the bill text.

The study will look at the amount and types of plastic packaging sold in the state, the full cost of managing plastic packaging waste, where plastic packaging ultimately ends up, contamination issues hampering plastics recycling, and more.

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is highlighted in the bill. The study will explore “costs and savings to all stakeholders in existing product stewardship programs where they have been implemented including, where available, the specific costs for the management of plastic packaging.”

The report will also compile a database of businesses in Washington using recycled plastic as feedstock, and it will examine industry efforts to reuse or recycle plastic packaging in Washington.

Recommendations based on the findings are due by Oct. 31, 2020. The recommendations must offer ways to reduce plastic packaging; achieve 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging in all products sold in the state by 2025; reach at least 25% post-consumer recycled content in packaging by 2025; and more.

Zero Waste Washington praised the bill’s passage.

Photo credit: By Christopher Boswell/Shutterstock

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