Avon effort to ban Styrofoam could be revived under proposed law
Bill heads to House after passing Colorado Senate on Tuesday
Members of the Colorado legislature have been searching for a way to remove the state regulation which prevents towns from banning Styrofoam, and new legislation could provide an avenue for such changes.
Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Vail Democrat, has been one of the leaders in the effort, but last year, that effort fell short, failing to make it out of committee.
The state Senate’s failure in 2020 to take up SB20-010, “Repeal Ban On Local Goverment Regulation Of Plastics,” sent a discouraging message to elected officials in towns like Avon, who hope to lead the way in a massive nationwide effort to cut down single-use plastic through local regulations.
Currently, a statewide regulation prevents towns from creating those local regulations, as Colorado has a law in place saying “no unit of local government shall require or prohibit the use or sale of specific types of plastic materials or products.”
The Avon Town Council adopted an ordinance in early 2020 to ban polystyrene takeout containers with the condition that Donovan’s legislation pass. That legislation did not pass, but a new plastic pollution reduction bill, HB21-1162, passed the Colorado Senate on Tuesday in a 20-14 vote.
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If the bill becomes law, HB21-116 would prohibit stores and retail food establishments, on and after Sept. 1, 2022, from providing single-use plastic carryout bags to customers. It would also repeal the prohibition on local governments to ban the use or sale of specific types of plastic materials or products starting July 1, 2023.
“If HB21-116 passes, I suspect Avon will follow the state’s requirement to ban polystyrene,” Avon Town Manager Eric Heil told the Vail Daily. “I don’t know if there is any need or interest in Avon to adopt any local regulations on banning polystyrene, but I would anticipate an update to council on HB21-116.”
Colorado business coalitions including Good Business Colorado and Resilient Restaurants have supported the bill.
“We need to use this opportunity to address the currently unsustainable use of disposable plastics, particularly expanded polystyrene takeout packaging and single-use plastic bags,” said Robert Bogatin of Good Business Colorado. “This legislation is not a burden to restaurants if you realize the health, economic and community benefits that result from investing in affordable packaging that is significantly less harmful.”
The bill was scheduled to head back to the Colorado House on Thursday, where legislators will examine the amendments made by the Senate.