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Washington bottle deposit proposal fizzles out in Legislature

caption: Another proposal to create a bottle deposit program in Washington state fizzled out in the state House during the 2024 session.
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Another proposal to create a bottle deposit program in Washington state fizzled out in the state House during the 2024 session.

The latest attempt to create a bottle deposit program in Washington state was shattered on the House floor this week.

State Rep. Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver) sponsored HB 2144, the bill that proposed the creation of a bottle deposit program in Washington state. She said that the bill went over well in committees, but she was unable to garner enough support in the House. She also says she is not ready to pour this idea down the drain just yet.

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"While the bill was successfully passed out of the Environment Policy Committee and the Finance Fiscal Committee, it failed to garner the support needed to pass off the House floor," Rep. Stonier said. "I have already begun work on a new version of the bill for next year and remain committed to find ways to get the votes needed to pass this bill that will improve our recycling system in the state for beverage containers."

Under the proposal, a 10 cent deposit would be added on to the sale of beverage containers sold in Washington state (bottles and cans). To get that 10 cents back, a customer would have to return the container to a store. The ultimate goal of the bottle deposit bill was to increase recycling rates in Washington state.

The system relied on beverage distributors — which largely supported the idea — to create the system. The Washington Food Industry Association, however, opposed the proposal.

The 2024 bottle bill was also supported by the Evergreen Recycling Refund Coalition, a group of beverage manufacturers, distributors, recyclers, and recycling advocates.

“The need for a more effective recycling policy is clear: Washington has the lowest beverage container recycling rate from British Columbia to California. The Recycling Refund bill gained a lot of momentum this session, and it is well-positioned for future consideration with the beverage industry ready to serve as an operational steward," the coalition said in a statement.

This is not the first time Washington lawmakers have tried to create a bottle deposit program. In 2023, the House considered a similar proposal, which was part of the WRAP Act during that session. That too did not get enough support from lawmakers.

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Both proposals were based on Oregon's bottle deposit program that has been up and running since 1972. It was created as a form of litter control. Oregon was the first U.S. state to establish such a program. California also has a bottle deposit program, which began in 1987. At the start of 2024, California began including wine and spirits bottles, as well as fruit juice containers, to its deposit program. California consumers get 5 or 10 cents back, depending on the container size.

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