2021 session legislation

Waste and recycling laws from Washington's 2021 legislative session, covering recycled content minimums, plastic packaging, and restrictions on single-use items like food serviceware and expanded polystyrene.

Recycling, waste, and litter reduction
RCW 70A.245 (SB 5022)

Postconsumer recycled (PCR) content (RCW 70A.245.010 to .060)

This law requires producers of many common single-use plastics to include a minimum amount of recycled material in their products. The recycled content minimums increase over the next 15 years. This law aims to boost domestic markets for recycled materials and reduce the economic dependence on virgin plastics.

Learn more about the recycled content minimums requirements

More information:

Shannon Jones

Expanded polystyrene ban (RCW 70A.245.070)

Several types of expanded polystyrene (EPS) will soon be banned for sale and distribution in Washington. In June 2023, EPS packing peanuts and other loose fill packaging material will be banned. In June 2024, portable coolers and food service products like containers, plates, bowls, clam shells, trays, and cups made from EPS will be banned.

Learn more about the expanded polystyrene ban

More information:

Lauren DiRe

Optional (single-use) food serviceware (RCW 70A.245.080)

Businesses can no longer automatically include single-use food serviceware items in customer orders. Customers have to verbally confirm that they want single-use items, or they must select items from self-service bins instead of having them automatically included with a food order. Single-use food and drink serviceware items this law effects include plastic utensils, straws, condiment packages, and cup lids for cold beverages.

Learn more about the single-use serviceware restrictions

More information:

Carolyn Bowie

Plastic packaging advisory committee report (SB 5022, Section 9)

In 2021, the Washington Legislature passed SB 5022. Section 9 of that law directed Ecology to hire a third-party facilitator to convene a stakeholder advisory committee. The committee prepared recommendations for mandatory postconsumer recycled content requirements for plastic packaging not subject to RCW 70A.245. Committee recommendations covered the following plastic packaging:

  • Polypropylene No. 5 resin (No. 5 PP) tubs
  • Polyethylene Terephthalate (No. 1 PET) thermoform containers for consumable and durable goods 
  • Single-use cups made from No. 1 PET, No. 5 PP, and Polystyrene (PS)  

The stakeholder advisory committee facilitator submitted the committee’s plastic packaging report to the Legislature in December 2021.

Read the Plastic Packaging Stakeholder Advisory Committee Report

More information:

Shannon Jones