Preparing for the Upcoming 2024 Ban on Polystyrene
To mitigate plastic pollution and protect human health from the most toxic of plastics, including polystyrene (often referred to as Styrofoam®), Eco-Cycle and partners championed the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act (also known as the PPRA or HB21-1162), which was passed by the Colorado state legislature in 2021.
Municipalities (or counties) have the primary role of educating the public about the 2023 bag fees, and the January 1, 2024, ban on plastic bags and polystyrene foam. Municipalities are also responsible for implementing the policy, collecting paper bag fees from businesses, and spending the fees collected—60% of the bag fees are remitted to the municipality (or county) to administer the program, or to provide education and outreach or support for recycling, compost, or waste diversion programs in their communities. The remaining 40% is kept by retailers to cover costs to comply with the ordinance.
- For more information on the 2023 bag fees, please see our guides to fees for municipalities, businesses, and community members.
PPRA Phase 2: Effective January 1, 2024
The second phase of the PPRA will take effect January 1, 2024 with a statewide ban on:
- Foam polystyrene (often incorrectly referred to as Styrofoam®) takeout containers and cups, and
- Single-use plastic checkout bags. When the plastic bag ban takes effect, paper bags will continue to incur the $0.10 minimum fee per bag.
Plastic bags and polystyrene takeout containers are identified as problematic plastics for the environment and human health:
- Plastic bags are one of the most common pollutants found in Colorado’s rivers, and never biodegrade—they only break down into smaller and smaller plastics and get into our water and soils, or are consumed by animals, ultimately ending up in the food we eat.
- Polystyrene packaging is one of the worst plastics for human health and the environment. Learn why polystyrene is one of the most harmful plastics.
Polystyrene Ban Applies to Colorado Retail Food Establishments
The polystyrene cup and food container ban applies to all retail food establishments in Colorado. According to Colorado law, a retail food establishment store is one that prepares or packages food for humans and provides the food to people either directly or through a delivery service. The food can be eaten on or off the premises of the food establishment. Retailers that only sell prepackaged food that they purchase from a third party and sell in its original package are exempt. See C.R.S. 25-4-1602 for a complete list of food establishments that are exempt from HB21-1162 due to the definition of retail food establishment.
Polystyrene Ban: Exempt vs. Nonexempt
Find out which businesses and containers are included in the polystyrene ban, starting Jan. 1, 2024
- Help restaurants and other food prep businesses prepare for the polystyrene ban with our Guide to Sustainable Serviceware.