Plastic Pollution Reduction Act

What is the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act?

The act (HB 21-1162) was passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Polis on July 6, 2021. The law contains a phased approach to eventually eliminating plastic carryout bags and certain expanded polystyrene products by 2024. The law also imposes a per-bag fee for carryout bags. Some of the basic provisions of the law are described below. Read the full Plastic Pollution Reduction Act 

Does the City of Montrose have jurisdiction to modify the provisions of the Act?

HB 21-1162 affords municipalities broad discretion in enforcing the requirements of HB 21-1162 within its jurisdiction, enacting more stringent restrictions on plastics, and imposing higher fees. However, the law does not allow municipalities to waive the fee or remove restrictions imposed under the law. All enforcement power is vested in local jurisdictions and will not be overseen by the state. 

To date, the City of Montrose has not formalized any enforcement measures or any arrangements for businesses to remit fees they collect under the Act.

Requirements for Plastic Carryout Bags

A carryout bag fee, which goes into effect January 1, 2023, requires stores to charge customers a fee of at least 10 cents per bag. Between January 1, 2023, and January 1, 2024, that fee applies to both recycled paper bags and single-use plastic bags. 

Starting January 1, 2024, stores and retail food establishments will no longer be allowed to provide single-use plastic carryout bags. If plastic bags were part of a business’s inventory prior to January 1, 2024, it can continue providing those bags to customers until June 1, 2024, but customers must still pay a bag fee. After the plastic bag ban goes into effect, the fee still applies to paper bags and any remaining inventory of plastic bags.

Under HB 21-1162, the local government where the store is located will receive 60% of the bag fee, and 40% of the fee is kept by the store. Municipalities are permitted to use the fee revenue for (1) administrative and enforcement costs incurred because of the bag fee; and (2) any recycling, composting, or other waste diversion programs and related outreach and education activities.

Stores are directed to start remitting the local government’s portion of the fee revenue on a quarterly basis starting April 1, 2024. The gap between the fee start date of January 1, 2023, and the fee remission date of April 1, 2024, is the result of a drafting error. 

Exceptions to the Carryout Bag Fee/Requirements

Retail food establishments are not required to comply if they prepare or serve food in individual portions for immediate on- or off-premises consumption and are not a grocery or convenience store. In other words, restaurants are not subject to the plastic bag ban. 

Additionally, the law excludes “small stores,” which are stores that (1) operate solely in Colorado, (2) have three or fewer locations in the state, and (3) are not part of a franchise, corporation, or partnership that has physical locations outside of Colorado.

Restrictions on Expanded Polystyrene Products

Also starting January 1, 2024, all retail food establishments will not be permitted to distribute expanded polystyrene products (i.e. styrofoam) for use as a container for ready-to-eat food. If a retail food establishment has remaining inventory that it purchased before January 1, 2024, it can distribute that inventory until it is depleted. The retail food establishment exception for plastic bags does not apply to expanded polystyrene products.