Washington State Department of Ecology

State joins Plastics Pact 2025, committing to fight plastic pollution

The pact aims to make 100 percent of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.

  • Friday, July 9, 2021 11:03am
  • Opinion

Note: the following was posted by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Plastic affects our lives in remarkable ways. It allows people to soar into space and is part of some of humanity’s most important medical marvels. The introduction of “Bakelite” in 1907 set off the commercial production of plastic, and since the 1950s, about 10 billion tons of the stuff has been created.

But life with plastics hasn’t been all butterflies and roses.

Plastic pollution is everywhere and poses a threat to human health, wildlife, and the environment. During production, use, incineration, or its slow disintegration to particles visible only with a microscope, harmful chemicals are released or leach out of plastics and into the surroundings. They can include dioxins, phthalates, vinyl chloride, ethylene dichloride, lead, cadmium, and other toxics.

Plastic everywhere

Between the annual production of about 500 billion plastic bags and the 78 million tons of plastics entering the ocean every year, a person could reasonably believe Earth is plastered in the stuff. Microplastics are found in nearly every environment, including rain. They are created when the chemicals bonding plastic structures together are either released or leach out of the plastic and its structure disintegrates.

Microplastics are so pervasive a National Geographic report on a study by the journal Environmental Science and Technology says it’s possible humans may be consuming anywhere from 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles every year. The same study says we inhale much more — around 74,000 particles.

Plastics policy changes

We must find ways to reduce harmful plastic pollution. Reliance on managing the stuff at the end of its life will not remedy the situation.

Many plastic products are difficult to recycle. It is estimated that only 9 percent of all plastics ever created have been recycled. And emphasis on recycling, while important, doesn’t slow down the generation of plastic and plastic waste.

Recently, Washington banned single-use plastic bags, completed a plastics study, and will now be implementing new legislation to reduce the use of single-use plastics and increase recycled content in bottles and trash bags — which will boost markets for recyclable plastic. This legislation also bans three types of expanded polystyrene (EPS) products: coolers, packing peanuts, and take-out containers.

U.S. Plastics Pact

Washington joined the U.S. Plastics Pact, a group of nearly 100 public and private organizations committed to realizing a circular economy for plastics in America. The Plastics Pact wants to address plastic waste at its source by 2025.

The goals of the U.S. Plastics Pact include:

• Defining a list of packaging to be designated as problematic or unnecessary by 2021 and take measures to eliminate them by 2025.

• Making 100 percent of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.

• By 2025, undertaking ambitious actions to effectively recycle or compost 50 percent of plastic packaging.

• See to it that by 2025, the average recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in plastic packaging will be 30 percent.

The recent law passed in Washington supports the Plastic Pact’s goal to increase recycled content in products. It also reduces the number of some items that could be designated as problematic or unnecessary, such as certain EPS products and disposable food serviceware.

The U.S. Plastics Pact’s Roadmap to 2025 kicked off (in June) and Washington’s new laws will help advance the Pact’s goals in the fight against plastic pollution. With just four years remaining to reach the Pact’s national goals, Ecology will work to implement laws that reduce the footprint of plastics in the environment.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in Opinion

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
King County primary election candidates to watch | Roegner

With the Aug. 3 primary election, the public will narrow the field… Continue reading

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Massive reforestation effort needed in Washington and beyond | Brunell

Massive forest fires in the western parts of our country are not… Continue reading

LtE bug
The rebel flag does not belong in Enumclaw

Cheers to the young man who silently protested it.

LtE bug
Change doesn’t come easy

My children were teased terribly at Enumclaw schools.

LtE bug
Rich Elfers
The Threat Reflex | In Focus |

How do nations balance personal freedoms with public safety during major crises?

Jeff Antonelis-Lapp, “All Things Mount Rainier”
More Ways to Explore Mount Rainier National Park | All Things Mount Rainier |

There are many, many ways to enjoy the mountain. Here are a few.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Why wouldn’t you vaccinate to save loved ones? | Roegner

Many Americans continue to be hesitant to get the COVID vaccine, even… Continue reading

Rich Elfers, "In Focus"
Conspiracy theories | In Focus |

We’re all vulnerable to magical thinking

Most Read