2020 Zero Waste Legislation in Colorado
Eco-Cycle is advocating a circular economy in Colorado in which valuable resources re-enter the production process to reduce waste, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and conserve energy and water. To achieve this vision, we must work together to create new systems that promote sustainable, resilient communities.
Eco-Cycle is advocating for the passage of the following bills in the current legislative session, which runs from January-May 2020. Eco-Cycle worked with partner organizations, including Recycle Colorado, CoPIRG, and Environment Colorado, as well as legislators to develop these bills.
If you want a clean, environmentally-progressive and economically-viable future for Colorado, take a moment to give your support to the following bills. Stay tuned – status updates and opportunities to take action will be posted to this page throughout this legislative session!
Develop Recycling End Markets for Colorado
Recycling markets have taken a significant downturn after China – the world’s largest importer of recyclable materials – closed its doors to US paper, plastics, glass and metal. Now is a critical time for Colorado to capitalize on the need for local recycling markets and attract end market users and entrepreneurs to our state. This bill will also support and help grow existing end market businesses, including businesses that recycle glass, electronics, and compost.
STATUS: This bill is was PASSED in early June, and will be signed into law by Governor Jared Polis on Monday, June 13th.
For Immediate Release:
REVISED Friday, July 10, 2020
Randy Moorman, Eco-Cycle, Community Campaigns Director, Co-Chair Recycle Colorado Policy Committee, 303-720-5255
Brandy Moe, Co-Chair Recycle Colorado Policy Committee , 701-610-9559
Kristin Kim Haynes, Recycle Colorado, Executive Director, 720-839-9531
Governor to sign bill to boost recycling and spur economic development
Measure would help Colorado attract recycling businesses, investors and entrepreneurs, create local jobs
(DENVER, COLORADO)--As we continue to face a global pandemic, the Colorado legislature took a bold measure and passed legislation to boost recycling in the state and create local jobs. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, manufacturers have been demanding more recycled feedstock and they need more of it sourced nationally and locally. Colorado is currently a small contributor to the recycling economy--only recycling and composting 17% of its municipal solid waste (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 2018)--less than half the national average of 35%. This bill seeks to change that.
SB 20-055, Incentivize the Development of Recycling End Markets, sponsored by State Senators Kevin Priola (R-Adams County) and Tammy Story (D-Boulder, Denver, Gilpin, Jefferson Counties) and State Representatives Lisa Cutter (D-Jefferson County) and Jeni James Arndt (D-Larimer County) aims to accelerate Colorado’s recycling economy by attracting businesses and entrepreneurs to Colorado to use our recyclable materials to make new products.
Governor Jared Polis will sign SB20-055 into law on Monday, July 13 at 2:35 PM via Facebook live https://www.facebook.com/jaredpolis.
“Coloradans are literally throwing away tens of millions of dollars’ worth of recyclable materials every year,” said Randy Moorman, Community Campaigns Director for Eco-Cycle and Co-Chair of Recycle Colorado’s Policy Committee. “We could attract businesses to the state to reuse and remanufacture our discards into new products. This will create more local recycling jobs and help rebuild our state’s economy from COVID-19.”
What the Incentivize the Development of Recycling End Markets law will do:
- Through a stakeholder process, set up a structure and governing guidance for a Recycling End Market Development Center to support the development and expansion of end market businesses;
- Direct the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE) to conduct a study and create policy recommendations for how product manufacturers could play a larger role in designing, managing and financing programs for end-of-life management of their products and packaging; and
- Require CDPHE to conduct a statewide campaign to educate Colorado residents about recycling through social media, television and radio announcements, and printed materials.
Currently, Colorado lacks local recycling markets for most major recyclable materials. Nearly all of the paper, metal and plastic that Colorado collects for recycling is shipped out of state, or even out of the country, before being made into new products. The cost of transporting recyclable materials is a significant burden on local communities, especially in rural areas, and according to CDPHE, one of the biggest obstacles to expanding recycling programs around the state.
“Our lack of recycling is a lost economic opportunity, especially as we look for ways to recover from the COVID-19 economic downturn,” added Moorman. According to CDPHE’s 2016 Waste Plan, Colorado buries nearly $265 million worth of recyclable materials each year, including aluminum, cardboard, paper, glass, and plastic in our landfills.
Brandy Moe, Co-Chair with Moorman of Recycle Colorado’s Policy Committee said, “SB20-055 will help Colorado play a larger role in the recycling economy. The new Recycling End Market Development Center will attract new businesses to the state and create jobs for Coloradans by creating incentives for manufacturers to incorporate recycled materials into their products.”
“This End Markets bill has an added benefit to our state. By developing a more circular economy in Colorado, we will increase the demand for recycled materials, in turn raising their value and make recycling more economically viable, which will result in more materials diverted from landfills,” added Kristin Kim Haynes, Executive Director of Recycle Colorado. “Moreover, it will help resolve some of the financial and logistical transportation hurdles businesses currently have.”
SB20-055 started in the Zero Waste and Recycling Interim Committee where it went through a robust stakeholder process. Committee members listened to industry experts including the director of South Carolina’s successful End Market Development Center. They also traveled the state learning about the need to develop end markets in Colorado.
State Senator Kevin Priola was a member of the interim committee and a driving force behind the bill. “I’m very proud of SB20-55. It’s bi-partisan legislation that addresses three concerns I hear from constituents. By encouraging job creation, protecting the environment & finally reducing the amount of trash dumped in eastern Adams County, SB20-55 will improve the lives of folks in our entire state,” said Priola.
“Our state recycling rate is far below the national average,” stated State Representative Lisa Cutter, one of the key champions of the bill and the chair of the interim committee. “SB 20-055 will help Colorado seize an economic opportunity and begin to establish us as a regional recycling hub. This is smart for the environment and smart for the economy.”
For more info, see attached fact sheet.
Eco-Cycle, located in Boulder, CO, is one of the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit recyclers. www.ecocycle.org
Recycle Colorado is a statewide non-profit organization working to advance infrastructure, end markets, and state and local policies in waste reduction, recovery and diversion. recyclecolorado.org
Ban on Polystyrene
Plastic pollution is a huge global problem and we can’t recycle our way out of it. It’s time to say, “no more”—starting with one of the worst plastics for the planet and public health: Polystyrene. Often referred to as “Styrofoam,” this material contains known carcinogens and litters the environment, breaking down into microplastics that pollute water and soil. This bill proposes a ban on polystyrene food and beverage containers throughout Colorado.
STATUS: On February 24, 2020, the House Energy and Environment Committee PASSED this bill through committee. Thank you to everyone who sent a letter of support to their House Representative! HB 20-1162 is now under review by House Appropriations. Stay tuned for the next action you can take to support this bill.
Stop the Proliferation of Plastic Waste
Since the 1950s, plastic production worldwide has exploded from 2 million tons annually to a whopping 440 million tons in 2015 – and is expected to nearly quadruple in the next 30 years! Nearly one-third of all plastics end up polluting the environment, breaking down into microplastics that have been found in water sources, soils, and wildlife. This bill would prohibit retail stores and restaurants from providing single-use plastic carryout bags, stirrers, and require straws upon request starting July 1, 2021.
STATUS: On February 24, 2020, the House Energy and Environment Committee PASSED this bill through committee. Thank you to everyone who sent a letter of support to their House Representative! HB 20-1163 is now under review by the House Finance Committee. Stay tuned for the next action you can take to support this bill.
Increase Composting in Colorado
37% of Colorado’s waste last year was compostable, yet ended up in the trash. When food scraps, yard trimmings, and other organic materials are sent to landfill they produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. However, composting these organics helps fight climate change, reduce waste, improve soil health, conserve water and create local jobs. This bill proposes the development of an organics management plan that promotes compost use, markets, and infrastructure.
STATUS: On February 28, 2020, the Colorado House of Representatives passed this bill on a floor vote, 39-24 (with 2 excused). Thank you to everyone who sent a letter of support to their House Representative! This bill will have its first hearing in the Senate in early to mid-March. Stay tuned for the next action you can take to support this bill.