DENVER -- As states across the country continue to tackle the single-use plastic waste crisis, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the landmark Plastic Pollution Reduction Act into law on Tuesday. The law will phase out single-use plastic bags, polystyrene cups and containers, and reverse a law that prohibits municipalities from passing their own ordinances to address plastic waste.
Environment Colorado and CoPIRG, state affiliates of U.S. PIRG and Environment America, have been key architects of Colorado’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Act since its inception. The groups helped to rally more than 400 young people to participate in multiple youth lobby days to support the legislation and helped gather 21,000 Coloradans and over 200 small businesses from across the state to sign petitions supporting this comprehensive plastic pollution reduction bill.
“Using something for five minutes when it will pollute our planet for hundreds of years is antithetical to stewardship and conservation,” said Environment Colorado Senior Program Director Rex Wilmouth. “Coloradans value our beautiful wild places and this law to reduce plastic waste is an important step toward ensuring the long-term protection of our state’s natural heritage. With the governor’s signature, Colorado has chosen wildlife over waste.”
Colorado state Rep. Lisa Cutter, the bill’s prime sponsor in the Colorado House of Representatives, was excited to address the plastic pollution crisis.
“I’m thrilled to sponsor this landmark legislation. Plastic pollution is unsightly, unnecessary, and a threat to human and animal health. It also plays a key role in human-caused climate change,” said Cutter. “We can, and must, be better stewards of our resources, and this is an important step forward.”
With Gov. Polis’ signature, Colorado is the tenth U.S. state to ban single-use plastic shopping bags in certain stores, the eighth to ban foam food containers, and the first to reverse municipal preemption.
“The Plastic Pollution Reduction Act will phase out some of the worst single-use plastics and we applaud the Colorado General Assembly and Governor Polis for taking action. As the first interior state to enact comprehensive plastic pollution legislation, Colorado is helping to build momentum to phase out unnecessary and wasteful single-use plastics across the country,” said CoPIRG Executive Director Danny Katz.
Colorado has become the first state to strike a state preemption law, allowing local governments to regulate plastic pollution in their communities. Earlier this year, Pennsylvania also elected to abandon plastic preemption for the next year through their budget process.
“I hope this creates momentum for more states to remove the restrictions that tie the hands of their local governments and allows our cities to be leaders in reducing unnecessary plastic waste,” said Katz.