Your 2024 Zero Waste Policy Brief for Colorado

Learn more about the policies Eco-Cycle is currently championing at the state legislature!

Colorado’s legislative session is here, which means Eco-Cycle’s Policy and Campaigns department is working hard to write, advocate for, and pass Zero Waste bills. Find highlights of upcoming legislation below!

Needs Addressed by Colorado’s Producer Responsibility Policy

Back in 2022, Eco-Cycle helped draft, champion, and pass monumental Producer Responsibility legislation, making Colorado the third state in the nation to pass a policy that requires producers to fund the recycling of their packaging. Since then, Eco-Cycle has worked with the State, the Producer Responsibility Organization, and other stakeholders to support a statewide needs assessment. The findings of this assessment show that curbside recycling programs will be extended to over 700,000 households that currently do not have service, while also cutting costs for both residents and local governments that typically shoulder the recycling bill.

Eco-Cycle is lending its expertise as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) prepares to share these pivotal findings with the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee (JBC). A green light in March means we’ll forge ahead to implement a plan that promises to bring free recycling to all Coloradans starting in 2026!

Putting Out the Fire—Before It Gets Started

Eco-Cycle is championing Senate Bill 24-150, the fight against municipal solid waste incineration and plastics-to-fuel processes. Burning waste, including plastics, is not only an expensive method to generate energy but also a harmful approach that squanders valuable resources, releases pollutants into the air, and generates toxic ash that poses serious health and environmental risks.

Equally concerning is the location of waste-to-energy facilities. They are disproportionately placed in low-income and BIPOC communities, exacerbating health inequalities by significantly increasing cancer risks for residents living nearby. This practice stands in stark contrast to Colorado’s vision for an equitable and sustainable future. As we pivot toward strengthening our circular economy, prioritizing clean air, and supporting environmental justice, it’s clear that burning waste or transforming it into fuel is a step in the wrong direction. 

Clearing the Air on the Disposal of Vapes

Eco-Cycle is advising on and advocating for House Bill 24-1069, which aims to tackle the problematic disposal of vapes. With their embedded lithium-ion batteries and liquids, vapes present a unique challenge for waste management systems. Not only are these devices non-recyclable, but they also pose significant fire risks to waste haulers and recycling facilities. House Bill 24-1069 seeks to direct the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to study potential solutions for the disposal or elimination of single-use vapes. 

Extending the Life of Electronics: Right-to-Repair Legislation

Eco-Cycle is supporting legislative efforts by our partner, Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG), to make repairing household electronics more accessible. Building on the momentum of their 2022 and 2023 triumphs, where they successfully championed “right-to-repair” bills for agricultural equipment and powered wheelchairs, CoPIRG is now setting its sights on household electronics with the introduction of House Bill 24-1121.

This new bill is part of a growing movement to challenge the restrictions imposed by manufacturers on repairing electronic devices. By advocating for the right to repair, CoPIRG aims to not only reduce costs for consumers but also to encourage sustainable practices by extending the life span of electronics.

Colorado’s Other Mountain Ranges: Tire Mountains

Imagine a sprawling rubbery landscape of discarded tires. These tire “monofills” aren’t just an eyesore—they pose great environmental and public health challenges. Colorado is home to the largest tire landfills in the nation, which can erupt with unintentional fires, like the Hudson fire in 2021. Approximately 315 million tires are used up each year, with less than half of them recycled, and most instead ending up in landfills dedicated to used tires.

In a partnership with Recycle Colorado, Eco-Cycle is supporting a new bill that includes a modest fee with every new tire purchase to help fund tire recycling solutions, paving the way to transform rubber tire waste into useful products, such as road materials.

Streamlining Support for Recycling, Composting, and Waste Reduction

Colorado schools, municipalities, recyclers, composters, and other businesses have benefitted from state grants to increase recycling and composting and reduce waste for nearly two decades. The grants are funded by a small fee paid for material dumped at Colorado landfills. Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE), which oversees these grants, is proposing a bill that will combine the Front Range Waste Diversion (FRWD) program and the Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity (RREO) program into one statewide program that will expand access to more support for municipalities across Colorado. As advocates for both of the original programs, Eco-Cycle supports this move to create a unified, efficient, well-funded program to help advance Zero Waste projects statewide.