Colorado Prepares to Pay for Plastic Grocery Bags

(Colorado) -- Coloradoans should be getting ready to remember their reusable grocery bags when they go to the store or be ready to pay. Starting in January of 2023, stores will be required to charge customers ten cents per plastic bag following the passage of House Bill 21-1162.



According to the bill's fiscal note, the bill phases out single-use bags and expanded polystyrene food containers. It allows local government to enforce violations and impose civil penalties. It increases state expenditures starting in years 2024-2025, and local government expenditures in 2022-2023.


Here's what to expect. Starting in January of 2023, a store can provide a plastic bag but must charge a fee of ten cents per bag but any municipality can assign a higher fee if they'd like. Customers who receive government assistance for food programs will NOT have to pay the fees for the disposable plastic bags. Stores must give the customer a transaction receipt for the bags purchased and the store has to have a sign up letting customers know about the fee(s).


Then, stores will need to give 60 percent of the money collected from the bag fees to the city or county where the store is located. This will be a requirement starting in April of 2024. Cities and counties must use the fee they get from the stores to pay for administrative costs and enforcement costs. It will also go for recycling and composting. Education programs could be funded by the money the municipality collects from the store.


And then, later, in 2024, the bill will prohibit retail food places from using polystyrene products. Local governments may punish as they wish on this but cannot enforce violations on food establishments with schools. Counties can seek and impose a penalty of up to $500 on a second violation and up to $1,000 on a third violation.


The fiscal note goes on to reveal that school districts could see increased costs from the new law. School districts that use polystyrene trays are estimated to see an extra cost of $5.80 per student per school year to replace the trays with another type of material. There are currently, 890,000 students in the state of Colorado according to the fiscal note on the bill.


The new law is expected to add to the coffers of local governments from the bag fees they will be able to collect. And they might also be able to add revenue from imposing and collecting the penalties from stores who violate the law. The work load from the enforcement and investigations is expected to be increased for local governments. Costs are also expected to increase for county jails who will also have to switch to NON-polystyrene products.


Governor Jared Polis signed the legislation into law on July 6, 2021. It takes effect in January of 2023.


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