2018-2020 session legislation
Washington's 2018 through 2020 legislative sessions produced a ban on single-use plastic bags, and addressed contamination in recycling, the reduction of food waste reduction, the need for a paint stewardship program and plastic packaging study, and established the Recycling Development Center.
Contamination Reduction and Outreach Plans (CROPs)
Law: RCW 70A.205.045
We developed a statewide Contamination Reduction and Outreach Plan (CROP) to reduce contamination in Washington's recycling stream. Published in September 2020, the statewide CROP identifies problematic contaminants and includes a set of best management practices and resources to assist local communities to reduce them. Counties with a population of 25,000 or more and cities within those counties with an independent Solid Waste Management Plan are required to include a CROP in it by July 1, 2021.
Food waste reduction
Law: RCW 70A.205.715
This law set statewide goals to reduce food waste by 50%, including a goal to reduce at least half of edible food waste disposed by 2030. This law tasks us with adopting a food waste reduction plan, identifying baseline food waste data, and annually measuring progress toward the statewide food waste reduction goals.
To reduce food waste in Washington, we partnered with the state departments of Health, Agriculture, Commerce, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and over 100 subject matter experts to write a food waste reduction plan, the Use Food Well Washington Plan. This plan was delivered to the Legislature in 2021.
The Use Food Well Washington Plan lists 30 recommendations to prevent food waste, how to rescue more edible food for delivery to hunger relief organizations, and how to divert more food waste to beneficial end uses, such as energy and soil amendment production.
Paint stewardship program
Law: RCW 70A.515
This law requires all producers of architectural paint selling in or into Washington to participate in an approved paint stewardship plan and help fund a paint stewardship organization. PaintCare is the stewardship organization implementing the program on behalf of paint producers. We conditionally approved PaintCare’s stewardship plan in March 2021, and the program launched April 1, 2021.
Washington's plastic bag ban
Law: RCW 70A.530
To reduce plastic contaminants from single-use plastic bags in Washington’s environment and recycling system, the Legislature passed a statewide ban on all single-use plastic carryout bags used by retail and grocery stores, markets, restaurants, and other vendors. This legislation also requires businesses to collect and retain an 8-cent charge for all compliant paper bags and durable, reusable plastic film bags provided to customers at checkout. It also establishes minimum post-consumer recycled content and thickness specifications for these bags.
Our Bag Ban Outreach Material Toolkit for businesses is now available in 17 languages to support Washington stakeholders, statewide.
Plastic packaging study
Law: RCW 70A.520
This law directed us to evaluate and assess the amount and types of plastic packaging sold into Washington, as well as their management and disposal. We contracted with an independent consultant to conduct the evaluation and assessment.
This law required us to submit a report to the Legislature by Oct. 31, 2020, that included recommendations to reduce plastic packaging waste through industry initiative, product stewardship, or both. The law directs Ecology to consult with industry and consumer interests while developing this report, and include options to reduce plastic packaging in the waste stream.
Recycling Development Center
Law: RCW 70A.240
The Recycling Development Center (Center) is an Ecology program in partnership with the Washington Department of Commerce (Commerce). The Center provides marketing, policy analysis, research, and development to strengthen recycling markets and processing in Washington.
Commerce provides business, marketing, and technical assistance to support public and private sectors. The Center works with an advisory board representing public agencies, private industry, universities, and nonprofits.
The Center's goal is to improve domestic recycling markets in Washington. The work focuses on conversion or remanufacturing waste — like mixed paper and plastics — into new products.