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Earth Day Celebrated by Washington’s Recycling Industry – April 22, 2024

In the News

“You could say that about the life span of so much packaging today, Josh. Single-use. Helpful one day; threatening the lives of sea mammals (charismatic and not) in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch the next. Thankfully, paper products, including your pizza’s container, are biodegradable and recyclable — a chance to be born again.” – Seattle Times Editorial, April 21, 2024

“Residents in Peterson’s 21st Legislative District, encompassing neighborhoods in Edmonds, Everett, Lynnwood and Mukilteo, are a ‘strong environmental constituency,’ he said. He believes people will feel relieved using a deposit return system, knowing their bottles are more likely to become bottles again. But representatives of waste management facilities said the bill would undermine curbside recycling services and inconvenience residents. ‘We would still be running trucks and picking up materials,’ said Brad Lovaas, executive director of the Washington Refuse and Recycling Association. ‘But the materials we’ll be picking up will be less valuable.’” – Everett Herald, February 5, 2024

“The state’s recycling industry, which employs about 14,700 workers, can be strengthened, Lovaas wrote, with HB 1900’s provisions. ‘Our public-private partnership with residents and local governments has afforded businesses and residents an economically and environmentally sustainable system that is convenient and relatively low-cost,’ he wrote. ‘For residents, it equates to approximately 33 cents a day on average to pick up, sort and find buyers for recyclable materials. Any legislative proposal to increase recycling should protect you from higher costs.’ The main disagreement in the two approaches is who will end up paying for the expansion of recycling services. Those backing HB 2049 don’t deny increased costs for packaging producers, but say that the tiered-fee system should encourage those producers to find alternatives to materials that aren’t economically recyclable or instead use less packaging. Those backing HB 1900 are concerned, however, that increased costs for packaging are too easily shifted to consumers.” – Everett Herald Editorial Board, January 31, 2024

“Companies big and small serving Snohomish County, from Rubatino Refuse Removal and Sound Disposal to Republic Services and WM, are part of a recycling industry in our state that employs about 14,700 workers. Their work could not be successful without your commitment to recycling and environmental stewardship. That is why I am encouraged by House Bill 1900, a bipartisan bill proposed in Olympia to further increase our state’s recycling rate. It starts with the fundamentals and builds on proven programs and infrastructure. It will also help hold packaging manufacturers more accountable.” – Everett Herald, January 27, 2024

“Washington has a robust recycling system. A December 2023 report found that the state ranks No. 15 in the nation in terms of recycling but at just under 50%, the percentage of successfully recycled materials in the Evergreen State has been essentially stagnant for years. House Bill 1900 would require manufacturers to label packaging as recyclable only if the products largely can be recycled in the state, as well as increase the amount of recycled content they use to create new packaging products. It would also require producers to register their products with the state Department of Ecology for purposes of achieving a better understanding of products and materials brought into the state for purposes of either recycling, composting or being discarded as waste.” – The Center Square, January 24, 2024

“In one sense, the curbside system used by most Washingtonians is kind of awesome in its simplicity. You just have to make one high-level decision for each item. Recyclable or not? Then there’s a satisfying thunk, or perhaps the cathartically punk-rock sound of glass breaking, as you toss the item in the bin. At some regular interval, a truck rumbles up and hauls it all away, ostensibly to some bright green future as new boxes, bottles, cans, etc.” – The Washington Observer, January 19, 2024

“As we pursue a higher recycling rate, we should look for ways that we can further help consumers be more effective in their commitment to environmental stewardship while also protecting them from any unnecessary costs. That’s why we are concerned about separate proposals that suggest Washington adopt a bottle deposit system like our neighbors in Oregon.” – The Columbian (Guest Editorial), January 15, 2024

“We are encouraged that HB 1900 would initiate a needs assessment, which is a data-driven analysis of our current system that would help us identify the best opportunities for further improvement. This assessment will help us ensure that future decisions about this system are informed by data that’s specific to Washington and built on the solid foundation that’s already in place.” – Seattle Times (Guest Column), January 8, 2024

“Rep. Jake Fey, a Tacoma Democrat and the primary sponsor of HB 1900, believes state government needs to fund a needs assessment before implementing such a program. As outlined in his proposal, a needs assessment would determine the costs associated with increasing Washington’s recycling rate to 60%. Rep. Sam Low, R-Lake Stevens, appreciates that Fey’s bill preserves local control in the recycling process. It would ensure ‘we have a bill that is supported by everybody at the table, not just certain stakeholders,’ Low said. Representatives of solid waste companies are concerned about how the extended producer responsibility program in HB 2049 could affect their operations and customers, said Brad Lovaas, executive director of the Washington Refuse and Recycling Association.” – Everett Herald, January 2, 2024

“’This is important work as we continue to divert materials from the landfill and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,’ Lovaas said. “But in order to be successful over the coming decades we’ll need to work together through the challenges of siting facilities, building out additional infrastructure and supporting significant investments.’”  – Tacoma News Tribune, December 27, 2023

“As detailed in a recent article by Columbian reporter Lauren Ellenbecker, [there] is a lack of clarity about what can and cannot be recycled. Approximately 20 percent of material received at West Van Materials Recovery Center, one of Clark County’s three transfer stations, cannot be processed because of contamination. Containers, cans and plastic bottles with food remnants cannot be recycled, and sorters at the plant spend their shifts ‘undoing everything that people did at home.’ Other issues involve the inclusion of plastics that are not recyclable or have misleading labels suggesting they can be reused. Starting next year, California will require transparency from producers, and Washington should follow that lead.” – Columbian Editorial Board, November 18, 2023

“If you’ve wonder [sic] what happens to a glass jar, an aluminum can, a plastic milk jug and this newspaper — once you’ve read it — after you’ve tossed it in your curbside recycling bin, it all has a rough ride ahead of it on a maze of conveyor belts at the Cascade Recycling Center, WM’s (formerly Waste Management) recently upgraded processing center in Woodinville. Following a $34 million upgrade at the 82,000 square-foot facility, the center has increased its capacity by 50 percent and is now capable of processing up to 650 tons of co-mingled recyclables each day, enough to handle planned growth in the region and a changing mix of recyclable materials. Even at that square footage, the network of clattering conveyor belts, sorting equipment, computer monitors and catwalks literally pack the building to its rafters. The Cascade upgrade is part of a $65 million investment by WM in the state that includes similar work at facilities in Spokane and Tacoma, and more than $1 billion in work nationwide into 2026.” – Everett Herald Editorial Board, November 16, 2023

“Washington’s recycling rate soars beyond the rest of the country, but leaders in the state’s waste and recycling industry want this number to climb even higher. ‘We can do more,’ said Brad Lovaas, executive director of the Washington Refuse & Recycling Association, a representative group for the private solid waste industry. ‘I think for individual citizens, recycling at the curb is one of the most meaningful things you can do.’” – The Columbian, November 15, 2023

“[Legislation is] anticipated to focus on ‘truth in labeling,’ said Brad Lovaas, executive director of the Washington Refuse and Recycling Association. He said manufacturers would be required to label packaging as recyclable only if the products are largely recycled in the state — similar to a component of a 2021 California bill.” – Everett Herald, November 14, 2023

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