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2023 WA Legislative Session 

Progress on Protecting Our Health and Environment 

With the 2023 legislative session wrapping up, SPU is celebrating budgets and legislation that increase affordability, reduce waste and pollution, and support public health—without ratepayers footing the bills.  

Our work includes supporting these priorities through Washington State’s operating budget, capital budget, and legislation each year. This year, more than 50 experts from SPU reviewed 120 bills to ensure legislation helps us meet our objectives and priorities, and seven SPU staff testified at legislative hearings, including General Manager Andrew Lee. 

Here are 4 highlights from this session that will help protect community and employee health and reduce waste and pollution.  

  1. Making cosmetics and personal care products safer  

A new bill eliminates nine toxins, including lead, mercury, and formaldehyde, which are used in cosmetics and personal care products like soap, face cleansers, and hair products by 2025. This will protect people’s health—including women of color who are disproportionately exposed to these harmful chemicals—and help prevent these toxins from getting into our waterways. (Bill 1047

  1. Making battery disposal easier  

When this bill takes effect in 2027, we will have a more convenient, accessible way to dispose of batteries. This will reduce waste by requiring battery manufacturers to be responsible for recycling, and it protects SPU employee safety by reducing the risk of fires caused by improperly disposed batteries. (Bill 5144) In the meantime, learn how SPU will recycle your dead batteries.  

“SB 5144 will result in more batteries being recycled and fewer batteries ending up in the landfill. As batteries have become more common in consumer products, our staff have increasingly had to deal with these dangerous materials. Keeping them out of the trash will prevent fires at our transfer stations and toxic pollution in landfills while also recycling valuable materials and moving us closer to Seattle Public Utilities’ Zero-Waste Vision.”

Andrew Lee, General Manager/CEO, Seattle Public Utilities (Waste Advantage Magazine article on ground-breaking battery recycling bill
  1. Preventing plastic pollution in our region 

A new bill will reduce plastic pollution and unnecessary waste including reducing single-use plastic water bottles, phasing out mini-plastic bottles and packaging, and reducing plastic foam in our waterways. (Bill 1085

  1. Saving salmon in Lake Washington 

Seattle Public Utilities is committed to protecting and restoring our sockeye and chinook salmon populations, which are threatened by pollution and struggling to survive, especially in Lake Washington. One challenge these salmon face is the massive growth in population of fish that eat baby salmon. This year, we supported an effort led by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe to invest money to address threats to salmon.  

Working towards Uniform Recycling Standards in Washington State 

The Washington Recycling and Packaging Act (WRAP Act), which would help address this, didn’t pass this year, but we’re continuing our work to make sure more of Washington’s recyclable items are recycled. 

“Even though Seattle is proud that we have built a very strong and successful recycling program for our residents over the years, we can’t keep up with the rapid changes in packaging on our own. We know that we need producers at the table to solve our challenges and to build a more circular system for packaging in the future”

McKenna Morrigan, Seattle Public Utilities (Resource Recycling article about producer responsibility and the WRAP Act)

As your public utility, we work every day to manage water and waste resources for the Seattle area. Together with our partners and community, we advance SPU’s Zero Waste, One Water, Community-Centered vision.  

We are excited about the progress we have made together to protect public health and the environment in our region. We will continue our work in partnership with you to foster a healthy, thriving community for today and future generations.