Zero Waste Washington works to help pass laws at the city, county and state level to ensure that permanent programs are in place to prevent and reduce waste.

Here are some of the recent laws we have helped pass.

Reusable Bag Ordinances and Statewide Law

There are now 29 reusable bag ordinances at the local level in Washington.  These laws ban thin carry-home plastic bags and require a pass- through charge of 5, 8 or 10 cents for paper bags and durable, reusable plastic bags.  The charge helps incentivize people to bring their own bags.  And a statewide law passed and was signed into law on March 25, 2020. See the Legislative Work page for a factsheet about bag ordinances and the statewide bag bill.

We assist community members and provide technical assistance (and model ordinances) to city and county staff.

Safe Medicine Return

In the 2018 state legislative session, in partnership with a large number of public-health oriented organizations, sheriffs, doctors and others, we helped pass the first-state-in-the-nation Safe Drug Take-Back Act. This law requires that the pharmaceutical industry pay for the safe disposal of unused medications. Starting in 2020, residents across Washington State will be able to take leftover medications to big blue kiosk boxes at their local pharmacies, sheriffs’ offices and hospitals.

PFAS in Food Packaging

In 2018, Washington became the first state-in-the-nation to ban fluorinated chemicals in food packaging. Zero Waste Washington was a key partner in this effort, which was led by Toxic Free Future. The Act bans the use of the group of toxic chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These nonstick chemicals are found in paper food packaging, including in microwave popcorn bags and fast food and cupcake wrappers.

Legislative Session updates

Along with partners, Zero Waste Washington is hard at work promoting bills in each legislative session.  For more information and bill status: click here.