Legislation that would ban single use plastic bags at the statewide level is one step closer to becoming law thanks to a big vote today in the Washington State House of Representatives in support of Mona Das’ ESSB 5323.
After approving floor amendments, sixty-seven representatives voted to pass ESSB 5323, including a big contingent of Republicans, while only twenty-nine representatives voted nay. ESSB 5323 is now on its way back to the Senate.
The roll call was follows:
House vote on Final Passage as Amended by the House
Yeas: 67; Nays: 29; Excused: 2
Voting Yea: Representatives Bergquist, Boehnke, Callan, Chambers, Chapman, Chopp, Cody, Davis, DeBolt, Doglio, Dolan, Duerr, Dye, Entenman, Eslick, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Gildon, Goehner, Goodman, Gregerson, Hansen, Harris, Hudgins, Johnson, J., Kilduff, Kirby, Kloba, Lekanoff, Lovick, Macri, Mead, Morgan, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pollet, Ramel, Ramos, Riccelli, Robinson, Ryu, Santos, Sells, Senn, Shewmake, Slatter, Smith, Springer, Steele, Stonier, Sullivan, Tarleton, Thai, Tharinger, Valdez, Van Werven, Walen, Walsh, Wylie, Ybarra, Young, Jinkins
Voting Nay: Representatives Barkis, Blake, Caldier, Chandler, Corry, Dent, Dufault, Graham, Griffey, Hoff, Irwin, Jenkin, Klippert, Kraft, Kretz, Leavitt, MacEwen, Maycumber, McCaslin, Mosbrucker, Orcutt, Rude, Schmick, Shea, Stokesbary, Sutherland, Vick, Volz, Wilcox
Excused: Representative Appleton, Paul
Had State Representatives Sherry Appleton and Dave Paul been present to vote, ESSB 5323 likely would have received sixty-nine aye votes, which would have matched — exactly — the level of support that ESSB 5323 received in our last statewide research poll. We announced our finding last January at a press conference in Olympia with Senator Das, State Representative Strom Peterson, Heather Trim of Zero Waste Washington, and Gus of Surfrider Foundation.
Two Democrats voted no on the bill: Mari Leavitt and Brian Blake.
Fourteen Republicans voted aye: Matt Boehnke, Kelly Chambers, Richard DeBolt, Mary Dye, Carolyn Eslick, Chris Gildon, Keith Goehner, Paul Harris, Norma Smith, Mike Steele, Luanne Van Werven, Jim Walsh, Alex Ybarra, and Jesse Young.
ESSB 5323 is an NPI legislative priority for the 2020 session. Last year, the bill passed by the Washington State Senate with bipartisan support, but did not receive a vote in the House. Now, at last, with just a few days to go until Sine Die, the House has considered the bill and resoundingly passed it.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), eight states have so far banned single-use plastic bags: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont. Five of those states enacted their bans last year, when Senator Das’ SB 5323 was initially introduced.
If Washington adopts SB 5323 this year — and it must — then the entire Pacific coast (with the exception of Alaska) will have single use plastic bag bans.
Many cities and counties within Washington already have their own plastic bag bans; Edmonds was the first to adopt one nearly a decade ago. But most local jurisdictions still don’t have one. If Senate Bill 5323 is enacted, then the entire state will be committed to taking an important step to reduce plastic pollution.
What makes thin, single use plastic bags so awful? In a sentence, they are energy intensive to make, used and disposed of rather quickly, and then persist in our environment for an extremely long time. Here are ten facts about single use plastic bags that you should know from the Center For Biological Diversity:
- Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require twelve million barrels of oil to manufacture.
- It only takes about fourteen plastic bags for the equivalent of the gas required to drive one mile.
- The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.
- According to Waste Management, only one percent of plastic bags are returned for recycling. That means that the average family only recycles fifteen bags a year; the rest end up in landfills or as litter.
- Up to eighty percent of ocean plastic pollution enters the ocean from land.
- At least two hundred and sixty-seven different species have been affected by plastic pollution in the ocean.
- 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually.
- One in three leatherback sea turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs.
- Plastic bags are used for an average of twelve minutes.
- It takes five hundred (or more) years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately, the bags don’t break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment.
The Earth is the one common home that we all share… and we’re trashing it.
But we can change. And we must.
This bill gets us one step closer to building a more sustainable society that rejects the mantra of use it once and throw it away. We will continue to work in support of this bill until we get it in front of Governor Jay Inslee for his signature.