According to an estimate by Eco-Cycle, a nonprofit recycling center that focuses on zero waste, last year Colorado used almost 1.8 billion fewer plastic bags. The organization was one of the supporters of the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, a Colorado law that was part of House Bill 21-1162. The law phases out the use of single-use plastic bags. Last year, the law charged a 10-cent fee for every plastic or paper bag a customer carried out of a store to encourage the use of reusable bags. Since 2021, Denver alone has collected $5 million from their plastic bag fee. They’ve used some of that money to buy 58,000 reusable bags for community groups to distribute and educate people on the impact of single-use waste, even though the reuseable bags are NOT widely recycled in the U.S.
The ban is in place for big grocery store chains, as well as large retail outlets with more than 3 locations. With the passing of this new law, that kicked-in on January 1st, it is up to local municipalities to enforce it. While bigger cities like Denver can possibly utilize resources to enforce the ban, other places may not have the ability to do so. One of those places is Sterling, as city officials recently said that they will NOT be enforcing the ban, as Sterling City Manager Kevin Blankenship told city council members this week. Basically, there is no way they can afford to hire a bunch of officers for this new code enforcement. The bags still won’t be available at the major, or national chains, so don’t forget to bring your own bags, or at least get used to trying to figure out how to get from the front door of the store to the car, without dropping half of the items you just purchased.