Zero Waste Washington drives policy change for a healthy and waste-free world. We envision a just, equitable, and sustainable future where we all produce, consume, and reuse responsibly.

Photo above:  Student and other activists, with Representative Liz Berry, at Re-WRAP lobby day, January 15, 2024

Legislative process crosses first big “cut off” date

Many people describe a “short” legislative session in Olympia, which is 60 days long, as a sprint.  And it sure feels that way with pretty much a constant feeling of intensity, focus, urgency, panic, exhilaration… you name it! Yesterday, we hit the first big cutoff when policy bills had to be voted out of their policy committee. Happily, a bunch of zero waste bills made it and are moving into financial committees.

Come learn more about the bill actions at our annual legislative tea

(see below for more details)

We are working with terrific partners on a large suite of legislative bills this session. Here is a summary of our priority zero waste bills, their status, and how you can help us move them toward becoming law:

 The WRAP Act (HB 2049)

The big one! The Re-WRAP Act (HB 2049) is a comprehensive bill that will modernize our recycling system in Washington. Instead of sending $104 million dollars of recyclable materials to our landfills annually, let’s recycle it! Or, even better, reduce it! Championed by Representative Liz Berry, this bill establishes a producer responsibility program to create a stronger connection between the manufacturers and the end-of-life management of their products by funding the recycling system, designing products that create less waste, and increasing the opportunities for residents to participate in a modernized recycling system. Free recycling for residents across the state!

The bill would also increase mandates for use of post-consumer recycled content in more plastic products so that we can make new containers from the old containers. This will create strong markets for our recycled materials.

A related bill – HB 2144 – championed by Representative Stonier, would establish a system that facilitates the return of beverage containers, with a 10 cent refund.

Mercury light bulbs (HB 1185)

Representative David Hackney’s bill would ban mercury light bulbs in 2029 and evolve our existing light-cycle law. It is important for these bulbs to be safely recycled because toxic mercury vapor in light bulbs can impact solid waste workers when they break. And we want everyone to transition to LED bulbs to save energy (and money).

Organics (compost and food donation) (SB 6180)

Led by Senator John Lovick, this bill addresses composting and other management of organic (yard and food waste) in order to divert the material from the landfill and avoid methane gas generation. It also provides big support for increasing donation of food that would otherwise be wasted.

Refrigerant recycling (HB 2401)

Championed by Representative Beth Duerr, this bill would create a producer responsibility program for refrigerant gases, including a bounty to incentivize service technicians to capture and turn in the gas, rather than vent it to the atmosphere. These gases in HVAC systems, refrigerators, heat pumps and more, are much, much more potent greenhouse gases than CO2.

PFAS in biosolids (SB 6163)

Led by Senator Wilson, this bill would establish a monitoring program for PFAS (i.e., the forever chemicals) in biosolids from wastewater treatment facilities. Biosolids are spread in forests and on farms … and we are concerned about the impacts of these bioaccumulating toxic chemicals.

Cannabis waste (SB 5376)

Sponsored by Senator Stanford, this bill would allow sale of cannabis if the waste would not be designated as dangerous or hazardous waste. Currently, this organic waste is often landfilled, where it must be diluted 50/50 with material such as kitty litter.

Here is how you can help with these priority bills.  We need your help in getting these bills moved off the House and Senate floors in the next 1.5 weeks:

Please call or email your legislators directly using one of these two easy methods. It just takes a few minutes:

Tracking bills

You can find out more details about these and other zero waste-related bills and track their status at our legislative webpage

Thank you all for your help in moving important zero waste bills forward. If you have any questions, please contact Heather at

You’re invited: Annual Legislative Tea, Sunday, February 4th

We hope you will join us for a lively discussion about the exciting zero waste bills making their way through our state legislature. Are you puzzling over the implementation, mechanics, or science behind these policies?

You’re Invited!

Please join us for

Zero Waste Washington’s

Annual Legislative Tea

Sunday, February 4, 2023

3-4:30 pm

Via zoom

Please register so we can send you the zoom link:

or email:


Come and hang out with people who share your passion for protecting Washington’s environment and learn about the meaningful bills Zero Waste Washington, legislators, and our partners are pursuing to reduce waste and improve recycling in Washington.

Toxic Chemicals in Your Winter Gear

By Nayeli Campos, Community Outreach and Policy Coordinator

Winter is here, which means saying “hasta la vista!” to all our summer clothes. The next time you are bundling up in your cozy jacket or putting on your raincoat to get you throughanother rainy day, you might want to ask yourself what might be hidden within the very fabric keeping you warm and dry.

We rarely, if ever, think about how our clothes were made, so it may come as a surprise to know that many of our winter and outdoor clothes contain toxic chemicals known as PFAS.

What are PFAS?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a group of thousands of manufactured chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s.  Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS),  are two of the most widely used and studied chemicals in the PFAS group, however, they have been replaced in the United States with other PFAS in recent years (EPA, 2023). PFAS are most commonly found in coatings that resist oil, grease, and water. For this reason, they are generally found in cookware, carpets, food packaging, cosmetics, and clothing, especially outdoor gear (Chemical Action Plan, 2022).

The Invisible Threat

PFAS are persistent chemicals that are known for their resistance to degradation. They have a half-life of more than 92 years! This means it takes at least 92 years for half of the chemical to decay. It’s no wonder that they are commonly referred to as “Forever Chemicals,” making them a silent but potentially harmful presence in our everyday lives (Sinclair, Long, Jones, 2020).

According to the Departments of Ecology and Health, in Washington, PFAS have been found in surface waters, groundwater, wastewater treatment plant effluent and biosolids (see PFAs bill currently making its way through the legislature, above), muds in our lakes and marine waters, fish, and osprey eggs (Chemical Action Plan, 2022). Studies have shown that high exposure to these chemicals has the potential to lead to cancer, immune effects, developmental effects, reproductive effects, and more (EPA, 2023).

Your Winter Wardrobe: A Potential Source

If you’re curious about how you can limit your exposure to PFAS and get one step closer to a toxic-free home and environment, one place to start might be your closet. Recent studies have uncovered that durable water-repellent (DWR) coatings, commonly used in outdoor clothing, can emit PFAS into the environment, especially with aging and washing (Veen et al., 2022).

Brands we trust for warmth and protection may be contributing to the spread of these chemicals. In 2022, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Fashion FWD, and U.S. PIRG Education Fund released a scorecard that graded the PFAS-related policies and commitments of the top 30 U.S retail and apparel brands. Among the brands that received poor grades were Columbia Sportswear, REI, Wolverine Worldwide (parent company of Wolverine and Merrell), and others who received “F’s”. You can find that report here.

Some brands like Patagonia and L.L. Bean have committed to timelines to phase out all PFAS use. In the meantime, it’s better to opt for PFAs-free labeled items. Check out this list of PFAs-free products including outdoor clothing.


Bloomberg investigated the progress of companies in removing PFAS from their raingear (

Zero Waste Washington takes action with new project

Most consumers are completely unaware of the toxic chemicals in durable products in their homes and businesses. Because of this, these products have a habit of continueing to circulate in our families and communities since they are often donated to second-hand stores or recycled. Unfortunately, this perpetuates a cycle that extends the exposure of toxic chemicals to both humans and wildlife.

Zero Waste Washington has received a National Estuary Program grant to work with local governments and businesses to create swap-out programs for household items, including clothing, that contain toxic chemicals such as PFAs.

How You Can Make a Difference: Take Action Today

As a conscious consumer, here’s what you can do:

  • Stay Informed: Be aware of the potential presence of PFAS in your winter clothes and outdoor gear.
  • Choose Wisely: Opt for products labeled PFAs-free or with safer alternatives when you can.
  • Avoid sending used gear and outdoor clothing to thrift shops. Try to determine if your used item is likely to contain PFAs, and if so, hate to say it, but it is better to send it to the landfill than perpetuating the cycle of toxic chemical exposures.
  • Support the Initiative: Zero Waste Washington invites you to be part of the change. Stay tuned for educational programs, outreach events, and safer disposal practices.

Winter warmth should be about comfort, not hidden risks. Let’s make informed choices and support initiatives that lead us toward a PFAS-free future. Together, we can ensure that our winter wonderland remains safe for generations to come.

If you have questions or suggestions about our new swap-out program, please contact Nayeli at

Successful transitions to single use foodware for on-site dining

Examples of foodware items that restaurants and coffee shops ordered as part of our project



By Michelle Alten-Kaehler, Development Coordinator

Have you ever gone out for lunch and cringed to see your meal served in a plastic box? Maybe you scanned the room for silverware and discovered only tins brimming with plastic forks and knives. To top it off, you found stacks of disposable cups next to a water cooler. There’s no denying it. Washington’s fast-dining, coffee culture, and reliance on single-use plastic are generating heaps of waste nearly all of which is headed for the landfill.

Over the past year, Zero Waste Washington conducted outreach to over 900 restaurants, coffee shops, and food-service businesses in King County (excluding Seattle). We were seeking to provide mini-grants, generously funded by a King County RE+ grant, to help businesses transition to reusable products for in-house dining. Each mini-grant provided up to $500 for dishes, glasses, and other durable items meant to replace single-use service ware used when customers dine in. An additional $1500 was available for a dishwasher upgrade.

What did we learn?  Read on for stories of our local restaurants making the change.

Dishwasher challenges

Zero Waste Washington’s conversations with restaurant owners inspired unique solutions.

At a bustling family-run teriyaki restaurant, the busy owner served steaming meals of Kung Pao chicken, pork teriyaki, and more in Styrofoam boxes. She had already been thinking about a change. “I want to switch to large plates and real silverware for our lunch special,” she explained. She also needed a small dishwasher, compact enough to fit the narrow kitchen space. Our mini grant inspired her to move ahead. She found a suitable dishwasher, purchased reusable foodware, and now serves her customers on attractive plates and platters.

Some restaurants couldn’t accommodate a dishwasher, due to space, cost, or even a lack of suitable plumbing. At an eclectic vegetarian café, serving robust soups, omelets, and home-style pastries, the owner was eager to abandon her disposable plates, bowls, cups, and plastic flatware. Since a dishwasher wasn’t possible, she ordered a larger sink and sprayer. Then she switched to vibrant ceramic plates, wine glasses, and silverware that complemented the restaurant’s antique décor and reflected an environmental commitment.

Purging the Paper Coffee Cup

Cozy coffee houses often display ceramic or porcelain cups, neatly arranged atop espresso machines, while customers sip lattes and cappuccinos from paper cups with plastic lids. What is going on? Shop owners had switched to single-use cups during the pandemic. Most, feeling that their customers prefer them, had not switched back.

At an intimate coffee shop, a few rustic ceramic mugs added to the décor, while baristas served espressos in disposable cups. We spoke with the owner about the grant and a possible transition. She decided she would order mugs in a range of sizes, then encourage customers to use them. It would require a behavior shift for clients, but she was ready to give it a go.

A recently renovated Black-owned cafe, already serving sandwiches, was preparing to expand its dining offerings with crepes and waffles. The owner explained, “You came in at just the right time.” He wanted to switch from disposables to porcelain plates for desserts and meals, and real cups for coffee beverages. The grant made the change easier, and he was delighted with his new products.

What are the barriers?

To help restaurants, coffee shops, and other foodservice businesses kick the habit of single-use products, organizations and governments will need to understand the challenges these businesses face. Zero Waste Washington collected qualitative data to make this possible.

The discussions with business owners highlighted obstacles including the tight labor market, high labor costs, lack of storage space, and even customer behavior. Before COVID, “people used to sit here and eat,” one owner lamented. “Now they are in a hurry and just take everything to go.”

Taking the Leap

Despite the hurdles, many King County restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, bars, and wineries were ready to make a change. Sixty-six businesses signed up for the grant and 29 applied for additional funding for dishwashers or other dishwashing equipment

How you can help

  • Ask your city council to adopt a durable service ware ordinance like those passed in Bellingham, Bainbridge Island and Shoreline. Zero Waste Washington can help provide technical assistance.
  • Tell restaurants you prefer reusable service ware to disposable plastic and paper.
  • Request a reusable coffee cup, and bring your own if you plan to take your beverage with you.
  • Patronize businesses that use reusable plates, bowls, coffee cups and other foodware.
  • Bring your own containers for your leftovers and takeout meals.

Michelle enjoys dining at our regions’ restaurants and visiting tasting rooms and coffee shops. She asks for real cups and foodware and is working on new habits like bringing her own containers for leftovers!

We needed a solution: Expeditions Experiences at Furniture Repair Bank

By Sara Dandy, Communications Specialist at Furniture Repair Bank and Xenia Dolovova, Waste Reduction Programs Director

One of the primary goals of Furniture Repair Bank is to promote and foster the skills of repair, refinishing, and redesign. Talents such as these are less frequently passed down through the generations in our increasingly disposable economy. After a tour of our facility in early fall, a furniture donor asked if we worked with students, to which we of course replied with an enthusiastic yes!

Their child attends Summit Sierra High School located nearby in the International District of Seattle. The school conducts a program called Expeditions Experiences, an opportunity for students “to be exposed to, explore, and pursue their interests.” Thanks to the outreach of this amazing furniture donor, the school contacted us about participating in the program for the fall quarter. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to host a cohort of high school students who were interested in learning the skills we actively promote, so of course we jumped at the chance!

For two weeks we were tasked with introducing nine eager high school students to the world of furniture repair and refinishing. We created a curriculum which designed a schedule and an overview of each aspect of the processes we would cover including furniture disassembly, upholstery, sanding, stripping, painting, and staining. We had a lot to cover in a relatively short amount of time!

First: upholstery!

We do not yet have a full-time, in-house upholstery expert, so week one included virtual training with Kymm Clark of Lull Co. Studio from across the country in Pennsylvania. Kymm shares our aspiration of promoting the skills of furniture restoration to as many people as possible, offering classes online and in person. It is truly amazing how much can be accomplished with a little help from a Zoom room!  As luck would have it, we had just received a donation of nine parsons-style dining chairs–a perfect match for our nine students.

After removing many staples and the old, worn, and tattered fabric, our students set out measuring (twice of course) and cutting batting and fabric to bring the chairs back to life. Kymm patiently walked them through the process over the next few days, and one student took to the skill so well that she was able to assist her classmates when they weren’t sure of the next steps.

Students learning new skills. From one student, Alex: “I think I learned a lot of valuable things. Also, I got to use more and get more comfortable with power tools, because I don’t really have those tools at home. So, like, I don’t really use them. But now that I have, I feel a bit better about them.”

Next up: working with wood!

After multiple days of upholstery, our enthusiastic students were eager for tools that weren’t staple guns and fabric scissors. Fortunately the warehouse was stocked with recent donations including dining tables, benches, chairs, dressers, end tables, and two very large and out-of-style TV cabinets, all  in need of repurposing. After video education about the types and purposes of sandpaper and machine sanders, and of course an overview of safety protocols, we set out individually and in pairs to work on multiple pieces. But first, music!

To keep things entertaining while we spread out, two students assembled a playlist of hits from their younger days in the 2010s. Students worked to the energetic soundtrack of Katy Perry, One Direction, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Pitbull, and others pumping out of the Bluetooth speaker. One extra-large TV cabinet was fully disassembled, and the wood was used to create a half dozen rolling carts, essential items for frequently moving furniture around the warehouse space. The other was cut in half to be redesigned into a smaller TV stand to accommodate the more modern flat screens that have replaced the box-style TV the cabinet originally housed.

The students particularly enjoyed the disassembly process as they were able to utilize sledgehammers and circular saws (with adult supervision of course!). Orbital sanders were put to work on tabletops and cabinets to prepare them for fresh stain to highlight the beautiful woodgrain. They learned how to apply gel stripper to remove multiple years of paint from an antique dresser and a whimsically painted chair, a satisfying but messy process!

Time to paint and stain!

After clearing away all the sawdust, our resident furniture-flipping expert Heidi showed our students how to prepare their pieces for either paint or stain. They learned about wood conditioner for staining, scuff sanding to prepare for paint and tack cloth for clearing away any dust or residue. Colors were chosen, brushes were distributed, and the music commenced along with the work.

By the end of the two weeks, our mighty students made great progress on many pieces of furniture will go to people in need in the Seattle area. In late December, a few of the fully finished pieces were delivered to three Afghan refugee families. We are so grateful and immensely proud of the hard work and dedication these teens put into their pieces to help others. The Expedition Exploration program offers a variety of career and interest programs, so we were honored to have been chosen for theirs. These young adults will go on to do great things, and we hope to see them again soon at the Furniture Repair Bank!

A few of our proud students and the furniture they repaired.

To help or if you want to say hi or share other ideas, please email Xenia at

All of these programs would not happen without you! Please join Zero Waste Washington and support us with your tax deductible gift.

Please show your support by donating to Zero Waste Washington! Your gift enables us to continue making Washington State’s waterways, communities, and the air we breathe healthy and waste free.

Please join this effort and donate today!

Zero Waste Washington cannot do this work without you. Thanks for joining us!

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Zero Waste Washington

PO Box 84817 * Seattle, WA * 98124

(206) 441-1790

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