Peterson legislation to reduce plastic bag pollution moves forward

OLYMPIA—On February 12, legislation to reduce plastic bag pollution and recycling contamination passed out of the House Environment & Energy Committee by a 7-4 vote. House Bill 1205, sponsored by Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds, would build off 23 existing local ordinances, and restrict retail establishments statewide from providing single-use plastic bags.

“Back in 2009, as an Edmonds city councilmember, I was proud to champion Washington’s first reusable bag ordinance,” said Peterson. “But plastic pollution has only gotten worse since then, and it’s past time to consider a statewide solution.”

Plastic bags are one of the most commonly found items at cleanups along Washington’s coast and roadways, and contribute to microplastic pollution in the state’s waterways. Microplastics can be harmful if ingested by wildlife, and the toxic chemicals in the plastic can pose a health hazard if they make their way up the food chain.

Single-use plastic bags are also an operational problem for recycling facilities and a contamination issue for commercial composting facilities, costing time and money for removal.

House Bill 1205 would help reduce plastic pollution and encourage Washingtonians to use reusable bags by restricting retail establishments from providing single-use carryout bags. Instead, the bill allows for recycled content paper bags and reusable bags made of film plastic, and establishes a per bag charge to be collected and kept by retail establishments to offset the costs of the more durable bags.

“The choices we make today will shape the world we leave for future Washingtonians,” said Peterson. “Moving beyond single-use plastics is a choice we can make right now to protect our environment and our health, so I’m very happy to see this bill pass out of committee.”

House Bill 1205 now moves to the House Finance Committee for further consideration.