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2024 End of Session Update

March 7th, marked the end of Washington State's 2024 Legislative Session, AKA, Sine Die!

This was a short legislative session (only 60 days) where lawmakers also had to pass a supplemental state budget. As a result, only a small number of bills were passed, with lawmakers choosing to take a more measured, wait-and-see approach to many issues facing our state.  Upcoming November elections also weighed heavily on the actions taken, with many legislators discussing upcoming referendums and citizen initiatives as a major reason for the death of many new or controversial policies. 

Unfortunately, the major bills that Surfrider Washington supported did not make it past the committee cutoff deadline for bills to be eligible for floor votes and therefore, disappointingly, died. 

Report out: The Bottle Bill HB 2144 (Rep. Stonier) 

In 2023, the WRAP Act included a bottle deposit return system (DRS). When the WRAP Act died last year, the DRS portion was identified as a choke point for legislators who didn't believe a bottle deposit system similar to Oregon was appropriate for Washington. In response to this opposition, we separated the DRS bill from the ReWRAP Act during the 2024 legislative session. 

The DRS bill was heavily favored by the bottling industry because it would help them share costs with the public. By incentivizing collection and deposit returns they favored putting much of the onus on individuals to return their own glass, plastic, and aluminum beverage containers. One portion of the bill that dictated the poor outcome was where deposit locations would be mandated - there were legitimate concerns that the distribution and number of available locations were not sufficient to meet the needs of all communities. 

This bill had serious opposition and questions from some Legislators, and unfortunately, it did not make it out of committee before the Feb 6 cutoff.  We will continue to work with stakeholders on this issue during the interim. 

HB 2049 The ReWRAP Act  (Rep. Liz Berry) 

What happened: We ran out of time.

We started the 2024 Legislative session with lofty goals to again bring Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to Washington. Thanks to our Prime Sponsor, Rep. Liz Berry (LD 36), HB 2049 was reintroduced and scheduled for the very first hearing in the House Environment Committee. Watch Surfrider lead out the testimony <here>

This EPR bill is incredibly complex, with several hundred pages of bill text. Any company that manufactures or produces products from paper and cardboard, beverage containers to prescription bottles, shipping and delivery wrapping, food packaging, glass bottles and products, and aluminum packaging products would be impacted. This means there was a long line of industry representatives and lobbyists that all needed a slice of the pie, or just outright wanted to kill the bill. 

Throughout the session, significant parts of the bill were adjusted, negotiated, or compromised, there were dozens upon dozens of stakeholders that all had input or objections,  and a never-ending amount of meetings held by lawmakers, staff, lobbyists, and activists. 

It also brought together a huge number of groups that are proponents of this policy.  Washington Environmental Priorities Coalition, Plastic Free Washington Coalition, The Associations of Washington Cities and Counties,  King County, and the City of Seattle were all huge proponents of the bill. Finally, Governor Inslee announced that HB 2049 was a high priority. 

Most importantly there was a huge outpouring of grassroots citizen support.   

Surfrider and Our Plastic Free Washington Coalition leaned heavily into the REWRAP Act. We organized and held a hugely successful lobby day in Olympia on MLK Day with almost a hundred volunteers participating.  The lobby day included speakers, a march on the Capital, and dozens of meetings that brought concerned citizens and students together with their Representatives and Senators to advocate for plastic reduction policy.  

There were also hundreds of postcards, emails, and calls to legislators from Surfrider volunteers. Thank you. 

Initially, HB 2049 moved quickly through the Environment and the Appropriations Committees but began to hit resistance as we built up to a vote by the entire House of Representatives. As 2024 is a short 60-day session, we simply ran out of time to pass the bill before the Feb 6 cutoff. Opponents attached dozens of huge amendments to the bill that would have taken hours of debate to get through. 

So at midnight on Feb 12, the ReWRAP act was dead for this session. 

Not all is lost, however!  Proponents of this bill made significant progress on this issue this session, and we will continue working on an EPR policy throughout this interim and will be back in 2025 even stronger!  


Keep an eye on this space to see if there are things you can do to help!


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1 Surfrider Washington Field Manager Liz Schotman and Environment Washington lead Pam Clough lead activists to the Capital Rotunda to march to end plastic pollution. 
Seattle Chapter Chair Drew Albenze marches to the capital with Plastic Free Washington volunteers. 
Surfrider Olympia advocate Joe McGee checks his meeting schedule for lobby day. 
3 HB 2049 Prime Sponsor Rep. Liz Berry rallies supporters in support of Extended Producer Responsibility for Washington
4 Plastic activists march to the Capitol
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5 End Plastic Pollution Now!
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Surfrider Washington Policy Manager Peter Steelquist testifies in front of the House Environment Committee.