Department of Ecology News Release - November 8, 2021

Ecology begins rulemaking for 2021 plastics law

Single-use plastic containers like trash bags and beverage containers must contain a minimum amount of recycled plastic beginning in 2023.


The Department of Ecology has begun a process that will change plastics in Washington. Today Ecology will begin a rulemaking required by the State Legislature that focuses on the recycled content portion of the 2021 plastics law and will establish how Ecology determines producer fees, oversight, and enforcement of the recycled content program.

Rulemaking also ensures a transparent process, and gives regulated entities and the public time to understand the proposed regulations and offer input. Draft rule language will be available mid-2023 for public comment. Formal public hearings will be scheduled at that time.

Plastic pollution is pervasive in Washington and poses a threat to human health, wildlife, and the environment. During its lifecycle, harmful chemicals release or leach out of plastics and into the surroundings. This disintegration of the plastic structure also leads to the creation of microplastics, which are found in nearly every environment, including rain. A 2019 National Geographic report says it's possible humans may be consuming anywhere from 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles every year.

A table showing the increase in recycled content.

Recycled content requirements increase and expand to other types of containers over time.

Passed by the Legislature in 2021, Washington’s 2021 plastics law requires recycled content in some single-use plastics and creates end-markets for recyclable plastics. Starting in 2023, some single-use plastic containers must contain a minimum amount of recycled plastic. Over time, recycled content requirements increase and expand to other types of containers. Products covered by the law include plastic beverage bottles, plastic trash bags, plastic containers of household cleaning products, and plastic containers of personal care products.  

Additional restrictions for single use plastic will be developed in subsequent years, including utensils, straws, condiment packages, cup lids, trash bags, bottles, food containers, coolers and packing peanuts

Washington is the second state in the country to require recycled content for plastic beverage containers and plastic trash bags, and the first to set these requirements for household cleaner and personal care product plastic containers.

More information about the 2021 plastics law is available at Ecology’s website

Visit Ecology’s rule website for information and to sign up for email updates.

Contact information

Dave Bennett
Twitter: ecologywa