Tuesday, the House Committee on the Environment heard two bills dealing with packaging extended producer responsibility and beverage container recycling. House Bill 2049— the Re-WRAP Act—is the second version of a bill introduced last session seeking to create a statewide system of recycling and disposal of product packaging, similar to what four other states have adopted. WR has weighed in with concerns that the proposal might be overly broad for a short session and premature when other states are wrestling with implementation. Allowing additional time to evaluate programs and gain further information would help WA design a more feasible and likely-to-succeed program. WR anticipates that a packaging EPR bill will eventually pass in WA as both OR and CA have adopted programs – which are in the implementation phases.
The second bill, House Bill 2144, would create a beverage container recycling program similar to OR, with some key differences. Interestingly, HB 2144 was included in the WRAP Act last session but separated out for 2024. The massive proposal met with resistance from the recycling and waste hauling industry, which is a leader in the country with a nearly 50% recycling rate, making WA 17th in the US.
WR expressed concerns based on challenges with the Oregon program and is opposed to a mandate that all retailers of a certain size and volume of sales be required to have a remittance kiosk in their stores. Although the bill does not require retailers to act as collection sites WR that a future interpretation of the rules may force retailers to take back beverage containers. A better solution would be to bolster the existing recycling program to achieve even higher levels of recycling.