Plastic Pollution Reduction Act

POSTED ON: December 13, 2022

On July 6, 2021, Governor Jared Polis approved House Bill 21-1162 (HB21-1162).  This Bill is also known as the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.  To read HB21-1162, refer to the following website: https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/2021a_1162_signed.pdf

There are a few details and timelines that local stores, retail food establishments, and customers need to understand and be prepared for, as follows:

  • Between January 1, 2023, and January 1, 2024, a store may furnish a recycled paper carryout bag or a single-use plastic carryout bag at the point of sale if the customer pays 10 cents per bag.
  • Stores and retail food establishments that have more than 3 locations (in or outside Colorado):
    • On and after January 1, 2024, can NO LONGER provide single-use plastic carryout bags to customers. The prohibition does not apply to inventory purchased before January 1, 2024, and used on or before June 1, 2024, which may be supplied to a customer at the point of sale for a 10-cent per bag.
    • On and after January 1, 2024, a store may furnish only a recycled paper carryout bag to a customer at the point of sale at a fee of 10 cents per bag.
  • Retail food establishments and small stores that operate solely in Colorado and have 3 or fewer locations:
    • On and after January 1, 2024 MAY CONTINUE to provide single-use plastic carryout bags at the point of sale if the customer pays 10 cents per bag.
  • On and after January 1, 2024, the act prohibits all retail food establishments from distributing an expanded polystyrene (i.e., Styrofoam) product for use as a container for takeout and leftovers. Retail food establishments that purchase expanded polystyrene products before January 1, 2024, may continue to use the products until their supply is depleted.
  • All stores and retail food establishments must provide, on the customers’ transaction receipt, a record of the number of carryout bags provided and the total fees charged. 
  • All stores and retail food establishments are required to remit, on a quarterly basis beginning April 1, 2024, 60% of the carryout bag fee revenues to the Town of Silver Cliff and the Town of Westcliffe and may retain the remaining 40% of the carryout bag fee revenues.
  • The carryout bag fee does not apply to a customer that provides evidence to the store that the customer is a participant in a federal or state food assistance program.

The Town of Silver Cliff and the Town of Westcliffe will reach out to all stores and retail food establishments before April 1, 2024, to outline how the Towns will be collecting 60% of the carryout bag fee revenues. The Town of Silver Cliff and the Town of Westcliffe may use its portion of the carryout bag fee revenues to pay for administrative and enforcement costs and any recycling, composting, or other waste diversion programs or related outreach or education activities. The act also authorizes the Town of Silver Cliff and the Town of Westcliffe to enforce against a violation of the act and expressly authorizes the Towns to impose a civil penalty against a store or retail food establishment of up to $500 for a second violation or up to $1,000 for a third or subsequent violation; except that a local government cannot enforce a violation committed by a retail food establishment located within a school.

For questions, please contact Ileen Squire at townclerk@silvercliffco.com or 719-783-2615 and Kathy Reis at townclerk@townofwestcliffe.com or 719-783-2282.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the State of Colorado’s Plastic Reduction Act?

The State of Colorado Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, or HB21-1162, was passed in 2021 to reduce and mitigate plastic pollution in Colorado. This two-phased law becomes effective on January 1, 2023, and puts a 10-cent fee on paper and plastic carryout bags used at checkout and for pickup and delivery orders at large retail stores. On January 1, 2024, plastic carryout bags will be banned at large retail stores, and paper carryout bags will continue to be offered for the 10-cent fee. Polystyrene (brand name Styrofoam) containers will also be banned in 2024 at retail food establishments such as restaurants, fast-food chains, grocery stores, and convenience stores.  

I heard small stores are not impacted for bag changes.  What businesses are considered a “Small Store”?

A store is exempt from the state law if it operates solely in Colorado and has three or fewer locations in the State, and is not part of a franchise, corporation, or partnership that has physical locations outside of Colorado. 

What types of bags are (and are not) subject to this law?

A carryout bag that will require a fee is one provided to a customer at checkout to transport or carry purchased items. Carryout bags include those used for pickup and delivery services at large retail stores.  

A recycled paper carryout bag is made from 100% recycled material or other post-consumer content.  

The following types of bags are not considered carryout bags and do not require a fee: 

  1. A bag made of paper with a basis weight of thirty pounds or less  
  2. A bag that a pharmacy provides to a customer for prescription medication
  3. A bag that a customer uses inside a store to package loose or bulk items such as;
    • Fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, or greeting cards
    • Nails, bolts, screws, or other small hardware items 
    • Live insects, fish, crustaceans, mollusks, or other small species
    • Bulk seed, bulk livestock feed, or bulk pet feed
  4. Bags used to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, seafood, fish, flowers, potted plants, or other items that, if they were to come in contact with other items, could dampen or contaminate the other items or contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods
  5. Laundry, dry cleaning, or garment bags

What if I’m a retailer that would like to be a part of this but is not required to?

If your business is not a major retailer or covered under the ban and bag fee, you may not collect the 10-cent fee from customers for remittance to the Town.  If you would like to have a similar impact, the Town recommends that the retailer stop providing disposable bags to customers.

Is the bag fee collected or administered by the Colorado Department of Revenue?

No, the carryout bag fee is not collected or administered by the Colorado Department of Revenue. Section 25-17-505(3)(d), C.R.S., requires that stores remit the carryout bag fee to the finance department or division or equivalent agency of the municipality within which the store is located.

Are the carryout bag fees subject to sales tax?

No, the carryout bag fees are not subject to sales tax.

Who handles enforcement?

While this is a State law, the rules leave compliance and enforcement to local governments. This means the Town of Westcliffe will provide compliance and enforcement services to businesses within its Town limits.