DENVER (CBS4) – Plastic bags and Styrofoam are ubiquitous at grocery stores and restaurants, but their days may be numbered in Colorado. Under a bill by State Reps. Alex Valdez and Lisa Cutter, you would have to pay at least ten cents for a single-use plastic bag or even a recycled paper bag starting next September no matter where you shop in Colorado.
By the following September, stores could only sell the paper bags. The bill would also ban Styrofoam by next January. The Styrofoam ban would be phased-in at schools by 2024.
Valdez says single-use plastics are polluting our environment and poisoning us.
“Some studies say that we are eating up to a credit card a day in the form of microplastics and pieces of plastic. Many schools are serving lunches on Styrofoam trays.”
Restaurants would be impacted even more. Many of them serve take-out food in Styrofoam containers and pack the containers in plastic bags. Nick Hoover with the Colorado Restaurant Association says restaurants have it hard enough right now.
“It will increase costs on an industry that is down on average 40 percent over the year. It doesn’t feel like the right time.”
Hoover says while the bans are bad, he’s even more concerned about a provision in the bill allowing local governments to enact even tougher restrictions on even more plastics. Some already charge fees for plastic bags in violation of state law, but the bill would allow them to limit or ban any plastic product.
Chris Howes with the Colorado Retail Council says now more than ever businesses need laws that are consistent.
“We think it makes sense to have one law, no matter whether there’s a fee, or a prohibition, or not. To allow cities to go above and beyond what the state law is doing seems to not make any sense to us, especially in a pandemic when businesses are trying to comply with laws the best they can.”
Valdez says he’s open to amending the bill but he’s not putting it off. This is his third year carrying it and he’s hoping it’s the charm.
“It seems like it’s never a good time to change,” he said. “Plastic bags and styrofoam have got to go.”