Re: “Bill to ramp up recycling a top priority for green coalition in 2022 Washington state legislative session” [Jan. 18, Environment]:

As a kid, I took great pride in being the self-appointed “recycling captain” for my family. I was responsible for breaking down boxes, snipping plastic soda rings, peeling off labels and, perhaps most importantly, maintaining expertise on which of the numbers on the bottom of each plastic container meant “recyclable.”

It wasn’t until a decade later that I learned that my efforts were, more often than not, likely fruitless — because only a tiny fraction of those plastic jugs, cartons and clamshells actually had a second life. This is the sad reality of America’s recycling system, which has proved itself to be woefully underprepared for the current onslaught of plastic waste, leading to more plastic in our oceans, landfills and parks.

Clearly, this problem is way beyond my 10-year-old self’s control — and it’s beyond yours, too. Even if we as individuals do absolutely everything right, we have no guarantees that anything we put in the blue bin is actually recycled. That’s why Washington must pass SB 5697, the Renew Act, which would put the onus to recycle on those with the power to do something about it: producers and manufacturers, not consumers like you and me.

Lillie Wright, Seattle, organizer with Environment Washington