DENVER — Two bills introduced in the legislature this week could see Colorado becoming the first state to ban the use of nearly all single-use plastics before the end of next year.
House Bill 20-1163, Management of Single Use Products, would “prohibits stores and retail food establishments, on and after July 1, 2021, from providing single-use plastic carryout bags, single-use plastic stirrers, single-use plastic straws, and expanded polystyrene food service products (collectively “single-use products”) to customers at the point of sale.”
Expanded polystyrene is also known as Styrofoam.
The bill was introduced on January 21. It is sponsored by Denver Democrat Representatives, Alex Valdez and Emily Sirota and Sen. Julie Gonzales, also a Denver Democrat. It is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. hearing before the House Energy & Environment Committee on Feb. 24 in House Committee Room 112.
The bill is expected to be opposed by the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) and other trade associations. Although the group has not released a formal response to the proposal, Laura Shunk, the CRA’s communication director, told Complete Colorado that the group is
meeting on Tuesday to formulate its official position. Shunk did say the bill is not supported by some of the association’s members.
HB 1163 would also allow establishments to furnish recyclable paper carryout bags at a charge of .10 cents each.
A bill last year that the association did support, HB 19-1143, would have prohibited “restaurants, food vendors, or other foodservice establishments from providing a single-use plastic beverage straw to a customer unless the customer requested it.”
That bill, which had bipartisan support, died in the House Energy & Environment Committee.
HB 1163 goes much further than its predecessor and is more aggressive than a similar bill in California.
The bill would give the executive director of the department of public health and environment the power to enforce the prohibition. It would take effect on Aug. 5, 2020, but would not apply to inventory purchased before July 1, 2021, and used on or before December 31, 2021.
If passed, the bill would impact nearly every business in Colorado that uses plastic to bag their customer’s purchases from 7-11 to King Soopers, Walmart to Kohl’s and McDonald’s to Chili’s.
A second bill, HB20-1162 prohibits “a retail food establishment from distributing (Styrofoam) for use as a container for ready-to-eat food in this state.”
Highlights in HB 1163 include:
- A local government may only pass an ordinance that is stricter than the state’s.
- A local government may pass an ordinance that forces establishments to send a portion of the paper bag charge to the local government.
- A carryout bag means a bag that is furnished to transport or carry purchased items.
- Styrofoam is also banned.
- The ban extends to any “point of sale,” where products are ordered in a store or restaurant, or for products that are ordered remotely from a store or restaurant and delivered.
- Reusable carryout bags that are authorized under the bill must be able to be used at least 125 times, carry at least 22 pounds, has stitched handles and is made of cloth or polypropylene.
- The ban extends to grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, liquor stores, dry cleaners, pharmacies, drug stores, clothing stores, or other types of retail establishments which carryout bags are traditionally provided to customers.
- Violators face penalties ranging from $25-$100 per violation and/or legal injunctions.