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Colorado creates a statewide recycling program

The Producer Responsibility Program for Recycling will tax some businesses to operate
Posted at 11:20 PM, Jul 01, 2022

In continuing coverage of trying to improve recycling locally and across the state, we are focusing on a new state law that aims to create a statewide recycling program.

The state of Colorado is going to spend the next year creating a board for a non-profit to oversee a public statewide recycling system.

They plan on funding it by taxing companies that make packaging materials. But some businesses are concerned about how the fees are passed down to consumers.

No matter how you look at it, Colorado has one of the worst recycling rates in the country.

A report from the non-profit Eco-Cycle and the Colorado Public Interest Research Group found that in 2020, Colorado sent 85% of our waste to landfills, leaving just 15% recycled or composted.
That number is under half the national average of 32%.

The new Producer Responsibility Recycling Program signed into law at the beginning of June hopes to change that.

The law creates a non-profit organization to manage a statewide recycling program that anyone can choose to opt into.

A city like Colorado Springs with only private recycling options could stand to potentially benefit from recycling rates for the low recycling city.

The state plans on funding the program by taxing companies that produce paper and plastic packaging materials. But, there are some businesses that are concerned.

Jaime Gardner, Executive Director of the Colorado Consumer Coalition, says, "We just don't think that this bill, this law, is the answer".

The Colorado Consumers Coalition is a group made up of businesses big and small, consumers, and trade organizations that are worried about who's exempt from paying, how effective the program is going to be, how those costs might fall on consumers, and if this is too big of a step to take.

Gardner continues, "You just look at the root cause of everything and say 'Okay, our recycling rate is really low. What can we actually do that's not jumping the shark?'".

But local electronic recycling company Bluestar Recycling thinks the concerns are outweighed by the effects and benefits of widespread recycling.

Aside from the obvious environmental impact, local recycling keeps money in the community and saves taxpayers in the long run when producers can re-use waste, and sell it back to companies.

Bill Morris, a founder of Bluestar Recycling, told us "If it gets thrown away, nothing good happens, nothing positive happens. But if you recycle it, it just triggers all these positive impacts"

For a full description of the new law and which businesses it impacts, see the Colorado General Assembly bill.

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