Tuesday, with a 31-14-4 vote, the Washington State Senate passed the Reusable Bag Bill, ESSB 5323, prohibiting single-use plastic basics at all stores to help reduce plastic pollution in Washington. Plastics are particularly harmful to marine environments and ingesting these materials can be fatal for marine animals. Plastics have been found in hundreds of marine species including 86 percent of all sea turtle species, 43 percent of all marine mammal species, and 44 percent of all seabird species.
“The bag bill will make a significant difference in terms of reducing litter in our communities, protecting wildlife in our rivers and marine waters, and keeping our recycling machinery running smoothly and cost-effectively,” said Sen. Mona Das, its prime sponsor in the Senate.
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The Reusable Bag Bill builds on 28 existing bag ordinances in Washington. On Monday, the Senate passed a bill, ESSB 5077, with a 27-21-1 vote requiring that straws be only offered on request. An additional bill, SHB 1632, similar to ESSB 5077, would require that condiments, straws, and utensils be only offered upon a customer’s request. However, SHB 1632 has not been pulled to the floor in the House. The companion Reusable Bag Bill, 2SHB 1205, has not been pulled to the floor in the House.
“We are seeing broad, bi-partisan support for policies to reduce plastic,” said Bruce Speight, Executive Director of Environment Washington. “We’re excited to work with Republicans and Democrats to solve this problem. Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our oceans and rivers and threaten wildlife for centuries.”