Rep. Strom Peterson applauds new laws addressing recycling crisis

By Brian Soergel | May 31, 2019
Rep. Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds)

Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law SB 5397, which initiates a study for the management of plastic packaging in Washington State through product stewardship, industry-led initiatives and other options.

“The proliferation of plastic packaging and the impacts on the environment when not properly managed is of immense concern,” said Rep. Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds), the prime sponsor of the House companion bill (HB 1204).

“This bill is a critical next step to determine how the state can engage plastic manufacturers to take responsibility and address this threat, including expanding responsible recycling options.”

SB 5397 directs an independent study of the amount and types of plastic packaging coming into the state and the disposal and recycling of that packaging, including costs.

Producer responsibility programs and industry-based initiatives will be compiled as potential models for Washington.

In 2018, China announced that it would severely restrict the import of waste and recyclables. The loss of this market – the country was taking about 45% of the world’s recyclables and scrap materials – has caused backups of some recyclable items with material has been sent to the landfill in a few instances.

“This law will lead to future legislation that will provide a sustainable means of ensuring that all plastic packaging is properly managed and plastic packaging litter is cleaned up,” said Heather Trim, executive director of Zero Waste Washington.

Last month, the governor signed HB 1543, which will promote end-markets for recyclables in Washington and create plans to reduce contamination. That will enable incentives to develop end markets for recyclables and plans to reduce contamination

It was a banner year for Rep. Peterson in writing bills to help reduce waste and improve recycling.

He championed HB 1652, a paint stewardship law to create a convenient, manufacture-run system that lets Washington residents and businesses recycle latex paint and safely dispose of oil paint, starting November 2020.

"This new law will help protect the environment by making it easy for Washington residents and businesses to recycle leftover house paints that pile up in our basements, garages, and storage facilities," said Peterson, who lives in Edmonds and own The Cheesemonger’s Table in Hazel Miller Plaza.

"The program also will save money for towns and taxpayers by freeing up resources currently dedicated to processing unused paint through local household hazardous waste programs."


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