UPDATE: April 24, 2023: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed HB 1085 on Thursday. The law’s effective date is July 23.
April 11: A bill to reduce plastic pollution passed through both chambers of Washington state’s legislature and now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee to be signed into law.
HB 1085, sponsored by Rep. Sharlett Mena, specifically aims to reduce three sources of plastic that can become pollution: single-use plastic water bottles; plastic containers, wrappers and packaging for health and beauty products; and certain foam structures for overwater docks. It passed with bipartisan support in the Senate in a 37-11 vote following a House vote of 97-0.
The bill requires that new buildings with drinking fountains also include bottle filling stations. This could reduce single-use plastic bottle use by encouraging the use of refillable containers.
The bill also states that “lodging establishments” such as hotels cannot leave out any health or beauty products, like shampoo, that are in small plastic containers, plastic wrappers or other single-use plastic packaging. Guests would have to specifically request such products. Refillable plastic containers that dispense products are acceptable, as are single-use containers not made from plastic.
“The little plastic bottles, wrappers, and pouches used for toiletries are extremely difficult to recycle because they fall through the filters at recycling facilities, and therefore are landfilled,” said Nora Nickum, senior ocean policy manager at the Seattle Aquarium, in a statement. “Several hotel chains have switched to sustainable alternatives, and we celebrate that being broadly adopted through this bill.”
In 2019, California became the first state to ban single-use plastic toiletries at hotels, and New York followed in 2021. California’s law took effect this year, and New York’s goes into effect next year.
If Inslee approves the bill, the measures will be implemented a staggered timeline. The water bottle filling station portion would take effect July 1, 2026; plastic toiletry elimination would take effect Jan. 1, 2027, for establishments with 50 or more units and Jan. 1, 2028, for smaller establishments; and the foam dock portion would take effect Jan. 1, 2024.
In 2021, Inslee signed into law a minimum recycled content bill, which also banned some expanded polystyrene containers.
Last month, Washington’s hotly anticipated WRAP Act, which included bottle bill and extended producer responsibility for packaging provisions, died in committee before reaching a key deadline.