Key committee moves Plastic Pollution Reduction Act forward

Media Contacts

HB1162 would phase out the worst plastic pollution from bags to polystyrene cups and containers


The Colorado House Energy and Environment Committee approved HB21-1162, a big first step for the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Alex Valdez and Lisa Cutter, would phase out single-use plastic bags, polystyrene cups and containers, and reverse a law that prohibited municipalities from taking action around plastic pollution. 

CoPIRG applauds Representatives Hooton, Bernett, Froelich, McCormick, Sirota, Titone, Weissman, and Valdez for voting yes on the bill.

“Many forms of single-use plastics are unnecessary and wasteful and we don’t need them,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG executive director. “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. The Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, HB1162, will phase out some of the worst single-use plastics and we applaud the Energy and Environment Committee for passing it.”  

Colorado has a plastic pollution problem. The state goes through an estimated 4.6 million single-use plastic bags and 1.2 million single-use polystyrene cups a day in our state. 

Once produced these items break into smaller pieces, often forming microplastics that take centuries to decompose if they ever do. Microplastics are so prevalent that some were recently found in rainwater collected in Rocky Mountain National Park. 

The sheer scale of this problem requires state legislative action. With millions of new single-use plastic items pouring into our state every day, it is urgent Colorado reduces the amount of single-use plastic products immediately. 

HB21-1162 will phase out the worst single-use plastics – items with little recyclable value and that are designed to be used once for a few minutes but will pollute our communities for centuries. We support HB21-1162, which will:

  • Phase out single-use plastic bags during the check-out process at businesses and apply a 10 cent fee to single-use paper bags to ensure we do not create a single-use paper bag problem.
  • Phase out many forms of polystyrene (often referred to as Styrofoam) take-out containers, cups and plates from food retail establishments
  • Lift the preemption statute that prohibits local governments from taking action to protect their community from plastic pollution

Eight states and over three hundred cities have acted to eliminate single-use plastics over the last few years with many more considering similar legislation this year. Businesses and customers have many other options and many have already phased out these plastics. In places where plastic pollution reduction policies have been enacted, there has been drops in overall plastic pollution in the neighboring parks, open spaces and waterways. 

Reducing overall plastic pollution protects wildlife, public health and is a tool for tackling climate change. It is also helpful for our overall recycling infrastructure because single-use plastics can jam recycling machines and contaminate other value products like glass and aluminum.

HB21-1162 turns off the tap of the worst single-use plastics, which is a critical first step to move toward a more sustainable marketplace.