House committee approves two big bills to tackle plastic pollution

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HB1162 and HB1163 tackle single-use plastic bags, stirrers, straws and polystyrene


HB20-1162 sponsored by Representatives Cutter and Singer, Senators Story and Foote – Sets a floor for take-out food containers, plates and cups by eliminating a type of single-use plastic, expanded polystyrene (a soft plastic foam), that is particularly harmful because it endangers our health, is not economically recyclable, and crumbles apart easily polluting our environment. 

HB20-1163 sponsored by Representatives Sirota and A. Valdez, Senator Gonzales – Sets a floor for other single-use plastics by phasing out single-use plastic bags and stirrers, as well as creating a straws upon request model in food establishments. These kinds of plastics are often unnecessary, hard to recycle, and bad for our environment. 

“Many forms of single-use plastics are unnecessary and wasteful and we don’t need them. They pollute our waterways and parks, harm our health and wildlife, and take centuries to break down. Nothing we use once to carry food or a beverage for a few minutes should harm our state for hundreds of years. These major bills phase out some of the worst single-use plastics,” said Danny Katz CoPIRG director.   

There are a number of problems with unnecessary single-use plastics:

1. Litter in Our Communities – In river and park cleanups across Colorado, single-use plastics are consistently one of the most found items. This is an eyesore and is costly – the Colorado Department of Transportation reports that it spends millions of dollars each year cleaning up roadside litter alone. 

2. Threats to Wildlife – Birds, fish, and other animals mistake single-use plastics for food and ingest and choke on them leading to injury and death.

3. Inefficient and Wasteful – Single-use plastic items are designed to be exactly that – single-use. Nothing we use once, for a few minutes, to simply move an item from a store to a home or to drink a beverage, should be allowed to pollute our state for centuries. That’s inefficient and that’s wasteful especially when these items come from processes that consume energy. 

4. Not Economical to Recycle – Most Colorado recyclers cannot recycle single-use plastics economically because they are inefficient and there is a lack of an end market to sell to. In addition, items like plastic bags and polystyrene can become lodged in recycling machinery jamming them and driving up costs or they get mixed in with higher quality recycled materials undermining their value. Lots of time, money, and energy goes into trying to educate Coloradans about what can and cannot go in a recycling bin. Phasing out these single-use plastic products would be simpler, easier and more efficient. 

HB1162 heads next to the Appropriations Committee. It must clear that committee, the full House and make it through the Senate by May 6th. 

HB1163 heads next to the Finance Committee. It must clear that committee, the full House and make it through the Senate by May 6th.