On March 28, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed into law HB 1185, a lighting EPR bill that strengthens and extends the existing producer-funded statewide stewardship program for mercury-containing lights by another 10 years. The bill was sponsored by Representatives David Hackney, Davina Duerr, Liz Berry, Alex Ramel, Joe Fitzgibbon, Beth Doglio, and Gary Pollet.

Washington’s existing mercury-containing lights program, LightRecycle Washington, was enacted in 2010 and established a producer-financed product stewardship program for the collection, transportation, and recycling of mercury-containing lights. In 2007, PSI initiated a dialogue on fluorescent lighting that resulted in a national action plan on lamp recycling and contributed to the enactment of EPR lighting laws in five states, including Washington. 

With the new law, the current lighting stewardship program, which was scheduled to sunset in 2025, will be extended through 2035. The law will also ban the sale of most mercury-containing fluorescent lights in the state by 2029 and improve the existing program to meet current best practices by modernizing key elements including: 

  • A stewardship plan and requirements to update the plan based on lessons learned as the program is implemented and matures;  
  • Annual reporting and transparency; 
  • Strong convenience standards to increase collection;  
  • Education and outreach, including to overburdened and vulnerable communities;  
  • Provisions for performance targets to evaluate the program; 
  • Provisions to encourage producer fees that incentivize environmental design; 
  • Penalties for noncompliance and funding for the state to oversee and enforce the law; and 
  • Requirements for producers to finance product end-of-life management by internalizing the cost of environmental and human health externalities associated with the life cycle of their products. 

When lights containing hazardous chemicals are placed in the trash, they often break, releasing these substances into the environment. By extending and expanding Washington’s stewardship program, HB 1185 will help to increase the recovery of valuable materials, reduce lighting’s environmental and health impacts, and contribute to Washington’s circular economy. 

For more information, visit www.productstewardship.us.