I previously discussed how “zero waste” mandates are stupid and how authoritarian eco-progressives are. Now they want to pass the cost of their environmental pipe dreams along to consumers at a time when Coloradans are already struggling with rising inflation.
The organization Eco-Cycle just came out with their newest “State of Recycling & Composting” report to tell us how ashamed we should be about our trash practices. Statewide we only recycle 15% of our trash compared to the nationwide average of 32%. Eco-Cycle highlighted the 5.9 million tons of trash that were sent to Colorado landfills in 2020. Our “sinful” landfill habit remains, and our local governments have only been able to change our behavior so much.
House Bill 21-1162, which prohibits restaurants from using polystyrene food containers and allows for local governments to pass their own bans or fees on packaging, doesn’t take effect till 2024. The Front Range Waste Diversion Enterprise Grant Program, passed by the legislature in 2019, has already increased landfill fees by $3.4 million and has distributed funds to various nonprofits and governments. There is little to show for the money; some of it went towards Broomfield and Arvada to develop Zero Waste plans. It seems like Coloradans like the fact that it’s cheap to throw away our trash. In the Front Range we only pay about $25 per ton of trash that goes into the landfill compared to the national average of $55. Decades of begging us to recycle doesn’t seem to be enough. Unfortunately, the Eco-progressives have plenty of “solutions” to this.
Eco-Cycle believes that EPR laws are the “only proven and effective tool to provide sufficient, ongoing and dedicated funding to increase recycling and reduce plastic pollution.” They claim that such a law would save Colorado taxpayers millions of dollars that are currently spent by local governments to operate recycling centers. Of course, the funding for this comes in the form of higher costs for any producer of things such as aluminum cans, glass bottles, cardboard, printed paper or recyclable packaging materials. Such a law would require the cost of transporting recyclables from more remote areas of Colorado (such as Steamboat Springs in Routt County) to recycling facilities in Denver to be borne by the company that manufactures these products. Of course, these costs will then be passed along to Colorado consumers in the form of higher prices. We might see this idea become law very soon.
In 2020, the Interim Zero Waste Committee drafted a bill called “Incentivize the development of recycling end markets” which was sponsored by State Representative Lisa Cutter, a Democrat from Jefferson County and Kevin Priola, a Republican from Adams County. The bill was passed into law in 2020 and included funding for an EPR study. This study was published in July of this year and included a survey of recyclers, local governments, nonprofits, and a public library. This survey showed support for producer responsibility laws for everything from mattresses and tires to carpet and solar panels.
As anyone could have predicted, the study recommended a Colorado EPR law and both Kevin Priola and Lisa Cutter have already said that they would support such a bill.
Both Recycle Colorado and Eco-Cycle will lobby for this bill and claim it’s needed to meet the arbitrary goals set by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
But it’s important that an EPR bill is never passed to protect consumers from even higher prices.
For example, when it became legal for your local Colorado grocery store to sell canned beer from craft breweries it helped them weather the shutdowns our local governments imposed during the pandemic. However, recent developments in the aluminum can manufacturing industry is putting significant pressure on Colorado’s craft breweries, making it hard to sell affordable beer. Denver Beer Co. is expecting their expenses to triple for canned beer and claim that craft breweries will have “to raise the price of a six-pack by 30 percent just to be able to stay in business.” The Co-owner of Dry Dock Brewing told Westword that “Prices are going to go through the roof.”
It’s not just silly for eco-progressives to force us to fund their zero waste mandates, it also threatens our Colorado lifestyle. If the legislature can force us to pay even more for the packaging of our food and beverages, it could harm the craft breweries that we all enjoy. Before lawmakers meet again at the Capitol, go ahead and tell your representative or senator to oppose any Extended Producer Responsibility bill. It’s not a partisan issue to advocate for the freedom to recycle or not recycle, to compost or not compost. Freedom to choose means a Colorado that is not only affordable but also tastes great.
Karl Honegger, a Broomfield resident, is a board member of the Colorado Union of Taxpayers.
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