Plastics are an environmental problem. Every step of the plastics production process emits significant greenhouse gasses. Animals ingest microplastics and become entangled in larger pieces, and plastic foam and other plastic trash is on every shoreline. In many cases, less-polluting and more sustainable alternatives are available.

Puget Soundkeeper and the Plastic Free Washington/Washington Sin Plastico coalition are running several priority plastics reduction bills during the 2023 legislative session. Representative Sharlett Mena is sponsoring HB 1085, an Act to Reduce Plastic Pollution.

Tangible Improvements

  1. Requiring refill stations in new construction to help transition to reusable water bottles. As of July 1, 2024, new buildings requiring drinking fountains will also have bottle filling stations. Providing more bottle filling stations will encourage more people to use reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastic ones. It will also support public health by encouraging hydration and providing more free sources of clean, potable water.
  2. Phasing out mini personal care packaging to help eliminate unnecessary, hard to recycle plastic waste. Lodging establishments would no longer provide personal health or beauty products like shampoo, soap, and lotion in small plastic containers or wrappers. Instead, they’d use bulk dispensers or non-plastic packages (such as cardboard sleeves for soap bars, cotton swabs, and shower caps). California and New York have already passed similar laws, as well as local cities like Bellingham and Bainbridge Island. The change would apply to large hotels with more than 50 rooms beginning in 2024 and smaller hotels, Airbnb’s, and other lodging establishments in 2025. Single-use items may still be made available on request to accommodate persons with mobility or other accessibility challenges.
  3. Banning foam docks and floats to reduce a major source of plastic pollution in lakes and marine waters. Ban the sale, distribution, or installation in or into Washington state of overwater structures containing plastic foam, as well as associated blocks or floats containing such foam, as of June 1, 2024. Many docks use floats that are made of or are filled with plastic foam. When damaged, they leak bits of plastic foam that contain toxic chemicals, harm wildlife, pollute marine and shoreline environments, and are impossible to clean up. Foam-free docking—floats filled with air—is readily available at a comparable cost. Punctured floats can be repaired or replaced without further releasing plastic into the environment.