Colorado Governor Jared Polis has signed a new law aiming to reduce the use of single-use plastic products in the state.
"We know that plastic pollution affects all parts of our environment, including human health," Polis said according to the Denver Channel.
The HB21-1162 bans single-use plastic bags and polystyrene packaging starting from January 1st, 2024. However, the law does have exemptions, including restaurants and businesses with fewer or up to 3 locations in the state. So as long as they aren't a chain, they can still carry these products.
Polystyrene is a type of plastic that is commonly used as a takeout container at restaurants.
CoPIRG is reporting it as part of the push to ban single-use plastic bags, writing: "Over the years, CoPIRG has educated the public on Colorado's low recycling rates, driven partly by so many non-recyclable single-use plastics, participated in rallies and youth lobby days, and knocked on tens of thousands of doors building up support across Colorado for action."
Retailers must also start applying a ten-cent bag fee, which even applies to recycled paper bags. However, local governments can pass their own fees further than what the state requires, which is what Denver has already done. They can also set their own regulations on plastic and packaging products.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signs a new law to ban single-use plastic bags and polystyrene in most retail settings in the next few years. Bill also adds new bag fee and allows local governments to set their own plastics regulations above and beyond the state's. pic.twitter.com/f5q0gaYF4o
— Alex Burness (@alex_burness) July 6, 2021
"We're planning to do what we can," Eagle County Commissioner Matt Scherr said.
"Nothing we use once should pollute our state for hundreds of years," CoPIRG Executive Director Danny Katz said according to a news release. "The Plastic Pollution Reduction Act will phase out some of the worst single-use plastics and we applaud the Colorado General Assembly and Governor Polis for taking action. As the first interior state to enact comprehensive plastic pollution legislation, Colorado is helping to build momentum to phase out unnecessary and wasteful single-use plastics across the country."
The law allows local governments to create their own rules. All revenue from the ten-cent bag fees will go back to local governments, although some will be spent on waste diversion and enforcement of these new rules.
Colorado is officially the first U.S state to introduce a state pre-emption law allowing local governments to set their own regulations and fees on plastic and packaging products.
The legislature was passed without a single Republican vote. It was backed by climate change groups, who noted how harmful plastic pollution was to our planet.
"These plastics that we're eliminating and phasing out," said Rep. Lisa Cutter of Littleton, who sponsored the bill, "are the most egregious forms of plastic... They're easy to replace. We can do this, and this is a great first step."
New York, New Jersey, and Virginia have also passed bans on polystyrene over the last year.