Impactful Outcomes for Key Zero Waste Bills

Great news for recycling and resource management from this legislative session! Collaborating with numerous partners, Eco-Cycle facilitated the passage of several circular economy bills through the Colorado General Assembly. 

Top Priority: Senate Bill 24-150 Aimed at Discouraging Waste-to-Energy and Plastics-to-Fuel Facilities from Coming to Colorado Passes!

Our top legislative  priority was the successful passage of Senate Bill 24-150, a bill Eco-Cycle championed along with key allies including Green Latinos, Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Conservation Colorado, and Environment Colorado. This victory significantly advances efforts in Colorado, and nationally, to safeguard communities from pollution  generated by plastics-to-fuel technologies. 

Every year, we hear from Colorado communities that are being pitched false solutions to waste management, such as waste-to-energy and plastics-to-fuel technologies. These approaches are two of the most expensive ways to dispose of materials, requiring  tremendous energy inputs while generating toxic, carcinogenic pollutants. They also perpetuate a system that demands ongoing resource extraction to create feedstock for incineration. Even worse, these facilities are most frequently located in already disproportionately impacted communities, putting them at additional environmental, safety, and health risk. 

Currently, Colorado has no waste incineration or plastics-to-fuel facilities. To preempt these facilities from coming to Colorado, we worked with bill sponsors Senators Lisa Cutter and Dafna Michaelson Jenet to try to ban Municipal Solid Waste incinerators. After meeting strong opposition in the Senate, we pivoted. House Sponsor, Representative Meg Froelich, amended the bill to prohibit the state from funding Municipal Solid Waste incinerators that turn plastics to fuel. The bill also requires that these types of facilities be regulated as solid waste incinerators and clarifies that these processes (including pyrolysis and gasification) are NOT recycling or renewable energy as previously allowed in Colorado statute.  

Eco-Cycle still firmly believes pyrolysis and other plastics-to-fuel processes should be banned, but at the very least, they should not be subsidized by taxpayers. Instead, public funds should be used to support sustainable solutions and used only for truly recyclable and renewable projects. The bill is now headed to Governor Polis, who has previously demonstrated strong support for authentic recycling solutions in Colorado. 

Other Zero Waste Policy Wins This Legislative Session

Producer Responsibility for Recycling Paper and Packaging (House Bill 22-1355)

In 2022, Eco-Cycle successfully championed a Producer Responsibility bill that will bring recycling to ALL Coloradans at no cost starting in 2026. As part of the compromise to get the bill passed, the legislature added an additional requirement that once a statewide assessment of infrastructure and service needs was complete, the legislature must approve the scenario for implementation before the program could move forward. For months, Eco-Cycle led meetings with interested parties and provided feedback on the statewide needs assessment. This April, the legislature approved our recommended scenario, giving the go-ahead to start program planning and implementation. 

The new Producer Responsibility program will provide recycling services to an additional 700,000 homes in Colorado that currently do not have recycling services, and will result in an additional 410,000 tons of valuable recyclable materials collected, for a statewide annual total of 720,000 tons of recyclables diverted from landfill by 2035. This was the last major hurdle before implementation; now it’s full steam ahead!

Waste Tire Management (Senate Bill 24-123)

This bill updates Colorado’s existing Waste Tire Recycling Program by charging a small fee on 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. Colorado is home to the largest tire landfills in the nation, which can erupt with unintentional fires, like the Hudson fire in 2021. In partnership with Recycle Colorado, Eco-Cycle supported SB24-123, which is headed to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Environmental Sustainability Circular Economy (House Bill 24-1449)

This bill proposes to combine two funds, the Front Range Waste Diversion (FRWD) program and the Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity (RREO) program, into one statewide program, the Colorado Circular Communities Enterprise, that will expand access to financial and technical support for Zero Waste initiatives to Colorado municipalities. As advocates for both of the original funding programs, Eco-Cycle supported this move to create a unified, efficient, well-funded program to help advance Zero Waste projects statewide.

Eco-Cycle and partners dedicated significant effort to establish these two funds that turn nominal “tipping” fees paid at landfills into impactful grants that have helped schools, municipalities, recyclers, composters, and other businesses build recycling, composting, and waste reduction programs and infrastructure over the past two decades. HB24-1449 passed its final vote in the Senate on May 8, the last day of the session, and is now headed to the governor’s desk.  

Consumer Right to Repair Digital Electronic Equipment (House Bill 24-1121)

This is the third successful “right-to-repair” law championed by our partner Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG). After passing similar bills that make it easier for consumers to repair their powered wheelchairs (2022) and agricultural equipment (2023), this year’s bill will extend the life of consumer electronics by making it easier to repair them. Eco-Cycle testified on behalf of this bill and is excited to see it go to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Eco-Cycle’s Policy Work Continues Even After the Legislative Session Ends

Recycling of Single-Use Electronic Smoking Devices (House Bill 24-1069) tackled the problematic disposal of single-use electronic smoking devices (vapes). While HB24-1069 did not pass, Eco-Cycle is working with legislators and partners to request funding for the study outlined in the proposed bill through the new Colorado Circular Communities Enterprise. 

Eco-Cycle celebrates these tremendous wins for our circular economy, environment, and communities, with our partners and supporters who took the time and made the effort to advocate for these bills—and a cleaner, more sustainable future for Colorado.