Ban on single-use plastics, polystyrene signed into law in Colorado

By: - July 6, 2021 4:05 pm

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday signed into law a bill to phase out the use of plastic bags and polystyrene products at major retailers and restaurant chains across Colorado.

Polis put his signature on House Bill 21-1162, dubbed the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, in a brief ceremony at the governor’s residence, joined by bill sponsors including state Rep. Lisa Cutter, a Democrat from Evergreen, and Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Democrat from Denver. Lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled Colorado General Assembly passed HB-1162 on party-line votes, with Republicans in both chambers unanimously opposed.

Under the new law, single-use plastic bags and containers made from polystyrene — commonly known as Styrofoam — will be banned at large retail stores and restaurants beginning in 2024. Stores will also be required to implement a 10-cent bag fee for both paper and plastic bags beginning in 2023. The bill exempts stores that operate three or fewer locations in Colorado and are not part of a national chain.

The bill also repeals a 1989 state preemption law that prohibited city and county governments in Colorado from banning or restricting plastic products at the local level. Environmental groups cheered the passage of the bill, which they say will boost efforts to curb plastic pollution and lower demand for the petroleum products from which plastics are made.

“Nothing we use once should pollute our state for hundreds of years,” Danny Katz, director of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, said in a statement. “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.”

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Chase Woodruff
Chase Woodruff

Reporter Chase Woodruff covers the environment, the economy and other stories for Colorado Newsline.