Colorado lawmakers pass bill banning plastic bags, polystyrene containers

The Colorado Senate passed legislation June 8 that would ban plastic bags and polystyrene takeout containers. The bill heads to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk for signature to become law, CPR News reports.

The law would enact a 10-cent fee per paper or plastic bag for customers at most grocery and retail stores, as well as restaurants, starting in 2023. The ban on single-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers would begin in 2024. After the ban on these items takes effect, customers would still be charged 10 cents for paper bags in an effort to encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags.

Sixty percent of the money garnered from the fee would go to local communities for recycling and composting programs. The rest of the money would go to the businesses themselves.

Pushback from some Republican lawmakers and plastics industry lobbyists on the bill led to some concessions that weakened the initial bill that was introduced in the House in February.

Primarily, smaller businesses (those designated as having three or fewer stores) would be exempt from the legislation unless otherwise mandated by existing local legislation.

Rep. Lisa Cutter, a Democratic co-sponsor of the bill, expressed her disappointment in the bill’s changes.  

“It removes a significant portion of stores,” Cutter says. “Many, many small businesses want to be part of the solution.”

The bill also exempts businesses such as pharmacies and dry cleaners, who can continue to use plastic bags. The bill also allows plastic bags to be used to wrap frozen foods, meat and seafood; plants; and bulk goods that could be contaminated.

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