Policy Update

How States are Tackling Plastic Pollution in 2020



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2020 has been a landmark year for efforts to curb plastic pollution. Legislators across the country have introduced over 250 bills on plastics. This includes everything from prohibiting polystyrene foodware, to creating a plastic pollution awareness day. 

States have also successfully passed legislation this session. Notably, Washington State recently passed both a bill to ban on single-use carryout bags (SB 5323) and a bill requiring minimum recycled content for all beverage containers (HB 5325). 

Washington Passes Strong Bag Ban and Beverage Container Bills

Washington’s bag ban sets a strong precedent. 

  • It applies to all retail stores;
  • Places an eight-cent fee on paper and plastic film bags. Both paper bags and film plastic must meet a minimum percentage of recycled content, and film plastics must be of a certain thickness to qualify;
  • Includes requirements for compostable bags.

Meanwhile, Washington’s recycled content bill, HB 5325, is the first of its kind to pass in the nation. It increases requirements for post-consumer plastic over time, from 10% in 2022, up to 50% starting in 2030.

Successes In Other States

Outside of Washington, states have continued to take bold action on plastic pollution.