Veto of Recycled Content Bill COVID – 19 impact

veto the Recycled Content Bill

Image source: Tri-city Herald

Keeping in view the current economic conditions, Washington’s Governor, Jay Inslee, has vetoed the Recycled Content Bill – the bill which mandates manufacturers for using recycled content in plastic bottles.

The economic conditions of almost all countries have changed tremendously in the past couple of months. The global outbreak of COVID – 19 has compelled nations to keep aside growth and development for now and prioritize health and survival. Entrapped under the same circumstances, Governor Inslee has recently vetoed the Recycled Content Bill, House Bill 2722, which was sent to him by Washington state lawmakers in March.

The bill mandates beverage manufacturers to use a defined percentage of post-consumer plastic content in bottles. As described in the legislation, the inclusion of recycled plastic in containers would start at 10% from 2022, increasing to 25% in 2025, and 50% in 2030.

On April 3, Inslee sent a letter to Washington State lawmakersdisapproving the enactment of House Bill 2722. In the letter, he cited the way circumstances had changed from last month when Legislature approved the supplemental operating budget of 2020. Emphasizing the incoming health crisis, Inslee mentioned the need to get prepared for the revenue losses that pandemic would cause. He confirmed having the House of Representatives and Senate leaders’ consent in this decision.

However, House Bill 2722 is a unique innovation in the US; its approval means an increased financial load on state government during the present and future economic hardships. According to a fiscal note, if passed, the enforcement and administration of this bill would cost about $328,000 to state in the 2021-23 state budget.

A similar bill was vetoed by Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, citing that the legislation would put the burden of ensuring recycled content in bottles on state regulators, and not on manufacturers.

Inslee signed one other bill of the same category, named Senate Bill 5323, last month. Unlike House Bill 2722, this bill will add money to the cash chest of the state. The fiscal note estimates several million dollars of revenue generation per year from the application of this bill. 

Senate Bill 5323 bans thin plastic bags and compels the stores to use thicker and reusable film bags made of recycled material. The bill requires consumers to pay a fee of 8-cent, increasing to 12-cent in 2026, to stores for paper and reusable plastic bags. This fee falls under the category of taxable retail sales, making the customers liable for paying sales tax on the amount of fee to the government.

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