Legislators should allow cities to tackle plastic pollution and waste

Media Contacts


CoPIRG is calling on the Senate Local Government Committee to approve a bill that would allow cities to tackle plastic pollution in their communities. The bill, SB20-010, sponsored by Senator Kerry Donovan, would repeal the law that bans local governments from protecting their communities from plastic waste.

“Many forms of single-use plastics are unnecessary and wasteful and we don’t need it. They pollute our waterways and parks, harm our health and wildlife, and hurt our recycling efforts. SB10 gives cities the tools to protect their communities and tackle plastic pollution,” said Danny Katz CoPIRG director.   

SB20-010 would remove the language from state statute that restricts a local government from regulating the use or sale of certain types of plastic materials including packaging and containers. 

CoPIRG supports SB20-010 because it removes the cap that prohibits Colorado cities and counties from taking action to protect their communities around single-use plastic pollution. This bill will ensure that Colorado municipalities have the tools they need to phase-out any unnecessary and wasteful single-use plastics.

There are a number of problems with unnecessary single-use plastics that local communities might want to address including:

  1. Litter in Our Communities – In river and park cleanups across Colorado, single-use plastics are consistently one of the most found items. It is hard to walk down the street without seeing a plastic bag in a tree or a foam cup in a gutter. In addition to being an eyesore, this 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 – if a local government wants to instead eliminate some single-use plastic products that could be simpler, easier and more efficient. 

SB20-010 will be voted on by the committee members – Senators Ginal, Williams, Bridges, Crowder and Coram.