A bill sponsored by Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent) would create an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program in which producers fund and operate an efficient, sustainable system for recycling packaging and paper products. SB 5697, also known as the RENEW Act, would require that producers achieve recycling and reuse targets and use recycled content in new products and packaging, overseen and enforced by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

“The RENEW Act is about protecting both our planet and us, as consumers,” said Das. “It would shift the cost of recycling from ratepayers to producers. This means the burden would no longer be on Washington families to figure out a confusing and cumbersome recycling system. We should be making it easier – not harder – for folks to do the sustainable, healthier thing for our earth.”

The EPR program created by the bill would harmonize a list of recyclable items and establish a consistent consumer education effort across the state, funded and coordinated by producers. Producers would be defined by a tiered list of manufacturers, brands and importers. Local governments would be reimbursed by these producers for the public education costs and the program would provide free, universal recycling services.

The program would incorporate environmental and social equity principles. Producers would be required to fund curbside recycling for all residents that have curbside garbage service and ensure that everyone has access to convenient recycling drop-off locations in areas without curbside collection.

“And at this point, in 2022, we shouldn’t be making anything that isn’t compostable, recyclable or reusable. When producers create waste, we – our communities – are left to deal with it. This isn’t acceptable; we need to act.”

SB 5697 was heard in the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee today. Its companion, HB 2003, is being sponsored by Rep. Brandy Donaghy (D-Everett).