2017 Legislative Session - Top Priority: Secure Medicine Return

Zero Waste Washington continues to work hard for zero waste policy. During the 2017 Legislative Session, we are taking a strong stand in support of good policy on product stewardship. This year it is also critical to hold the line against bills that weaken environmental laws.

Number 1 priority:  Secure Medicine Return

Zero Waste Washington’s #1 priority at the state legislature this year was SHB 1047 - the Secure Drug Take-back bill -  which was championed by Representative Strom Peterson. We put significant resources into support of this bill.

Secure Medicine Return ordinances that are similar to SHB 1047 have been passed in King, Kitsap, Snohomish and Pierce counties. In January 2017, the manufacturers’ program launched in King County with more than 99 secure medicine drop boxes. The other county programs are expected to start later in 2017. This means that 58% of the state’s population will have access to takeback boxes at local drugstores, medical centers and sheriff’s offices where old, unused medicines can be dropped off for safe disposal, paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. Zero Waste Washington and a coalition of agencies and organizations supported these ordinances because of concerns about the opioid epidemic, suicide prevention, children’s poisonings, and drugs getting into fish in our rivers, lakes and marine waters. Now, we want to make this program available to ALL of the residents of Washington through a state law.

STATUS: The bill passed out of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee on Feb. 15 and the House Appropriations Committee on Feb. 21 but did not move to a floor vote prior to the cut-off date in March. We will work to support data collection over the interim and a renewal of effort in the 2018 legislative session.

Other legislation

Zero Waste Washington has been tracking a number of bills and actively supporting others. 

Here are bills we supported and their status (as of March 20, 2017):

  • E-waste recycling. (SHB 1824 - Concerning electronic product recycling): Updates the E-Cycle law that Zero Waste Washington championed in 2006. Adds transparency and sanctions for violations. STATUS: Bill passed out of the House and was referred to the Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee.
  • Recycling solar panels (HB 1048 - Promoting a sustainable, local renewable energy industry through modifying renewable energy system tax incentives and providing guidance for renewable energy system component recycling): This bill is primarily about solar incentives and included language requiring guidance for solar module product stewardship plans and implementation. STATUS:  Bill passed out of Technology & Economic Development Committee and was heard in the House Finance Committee on March 10.
  • Paint (SHB 1376 - Concerning paint stewardship): Require stewardship of discarded latex and oil-based paint. A bill that has come up several times for the past few years and would be a major step forward for Washington if passed. STATUS: The bill passed out of the House Environment and Appropriation committees but did not move to a floor vote prior to the March cut-off date.
  • Children’s computers.  (HB 1596 - Requiring manufacturers of electronics to report the presence of high priority chemicals under the children's safe products act): Would have added children’s electronics to the list of products in the Children’s Safe Products Act.  STATUS: Died in policy committee.
  • PFAS in food packaging (HB 1744 - Concerning the use of perfluorinated chemicals in food packaging): Would have banned the use of Teflon-like chemicals in food packaging including “to go” containers. STATUS: Died in policy committee.

We have concerns about this bill:

  • Fees for Light-Cycle (SB 5762 - Concerning financing of the mercury-containing light stewardship program): Would decrease the amount of the annual fee required to be paid by a stewardship organization to the Department of Ecology and would reduce the frequency of independent financial audits to only once every three years (now they are annual). We are concerned about this bill because we want to make sure that Ecology has enough funds to effectively administer and enforce the program. Also, we are concerned that fewer financial audits will reduce needed transparency of the program. STATUS: Bill passed out of the Senate and was heard in the House Environment Committee on March 20.

Public Participation Grants

Last year, lack of action to adequately address an unprecedented revenue shortfall in critical toxics accounts resulted in diminished funding for toxics cleanup and prevention programs. As part of these cuts, funding for public participation grants was eliminated for the 2015-17 biennium. These important grants support participation by people and groups in communities impacted by toxic pollution threats as well as in implementing the state's solid and hazardous waste priorities. Suspending these grants means decreased community engagement on issues that are critical to human health and the environment. 

This year, we are part of a coalition of organizations that is pushing for this grant program to be fully funded.

Last Updated (Monday, 20 March 2017 17:17)