Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has signed House of Representatives Bill 22-1355, a bill that will create a nationwide recycling system run and funded by packaging and printing paper makers designed to help boost the circular economy for recyclable materials.
The bill was supported by businesses and several environmental and recycling groups, including the Recyclable Plastics Association, but opposed groups including the American Forest and Paper Association and the National Waste and Recycling Association.
Legislation aims to reduce plastic waste and improve recycling rates in Colorado. According to a report by the Denver-based Eco-Cycle and the Colorado Public Interest Study Group (CoPIRG), Colorado’s 2020 recycling rate is 15 percent, less than half the national average of 32 percent that year. The report also notes that 6 million tonnes of recyclable material are landfilled each year, representing a market value of about $ 100 million.
According to a news release announcing the signing of the bill, Colorado was the first state in the United States to develop an extended producer responsibility (EPR) system that makes producers responsible for funding a nationwide recycling program to cover capital, operational, promotional and educational costs. for better collection, processing and supply of recyclable materials.
The bill states that companies that sell consumer-oriented packaging and some printed paper join a producer responsibility organization (PRO), which will then fund and operate a nationwide recycling system. There are exceptions for small businesses and some strictly regulated packaging, and an amendment will allow manufacturers to present an individual program plan as an alternative.
Unlike EPR’s packaging laws passed in Maine and Oregon last year, HB22-1355 supporters say the Colorado program will be fully funded and managed by producers.
Proponents also say the law is the first to bring the principles of a successful national collection system into line. The principles require a system that:
- Generates strong environmental results in an efficient, transparent and responsible way;
- Provides convenient customer service;
- Creates a financially sustainable model that producers fully finance and manage; and
- Gives manufacturers access to their materials.
The aim is to significantly increase the collection and sale of recyclable materials such as bottles and cans, giving manufacturers access to the purchase of recycled materials so that they can be processed into new products.
“Our 100 percent recyclable bottles and cans are designed to be recycled, and one of our industry’s top priorities is to return them,” said Catherine Lugar, president and CEO of American Beverage, in a press release. “Colorado law is a promising model for creating a circular economy for recyclable materials, and we applaud Governor Polis for signing this law.”
Alejandro Perez, senior vice president of policy and government at the World Wildlife Fund, added: “By combining effective waste management practices with accountability, extended producer responsibility is a key tool in tackling plastic pollution. We have a lot of work to do to achieve a waste-free future, but we are one step ahead because of Colorado’s actions. The state provides an example of how industry, conservationists and politicians can join forces to transform the way we use, reuse and recycle materials.
According to the bill, the cost of EPR fees is built into wholesale prices and distributed along the supply chain, and supporters also say the key to the EPR measure developed in Colorado is that it gives a financial share to packaging manufacturers. and paper to ensure that the collection system is efficient, effective and user-friendly.