On Wednesday, May 11, Colorado became the third state in the country to pass a producer responsibility waste bill, which would require companies to pay for their packaging and use the new revenue to provide convenient recycling to everyone across the state. Colorado’s legislations approved on a 21-14 vote in the Senate and a 40-25 vote in the House.
According to an annual State of Recycling Report by Eco-Cycle and CoPIRG, Colorado’s recycling rate has hovered at an abysmal 15% for years and over $100 million in valuable materials are landfilled every year instead of being recycled and reused.
By putting the financial responsibility for packaging on the companies that produce it, the bill, HB22-1355, will create an incentive for companies to reduce the unnecessary packaging that comes wrapped and stuffed into so much of our stuff, and will fund an expansion of curbside recycling and other infrastructure across the state so we can better collect and reuse valuable glass, aluminum and paper instead of using virgin materials.
The estimated 1,500 companies that sell products in Colorado would pay fees, with a few exceptions such as sellers of pharmaceuticals, packaged to thwart children for safety. The fees often would amount to a penny or less per product. The fees would fund recycling services and reuse industries around the state. A Producer Responsibility Organization would administer the program. Colorado officials and producers would develop the program over the next few years for a launch in 2026.
Kate Bailey, Policy and Research Director for Eco-Cycle, says, “Every resident in Colorado and every local government will benefit. This will reduce climate pollution and reduce plastic pollution, reduce unnecessary packaging and save money for local governments.”