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Colorado lawmakers debate ban on certain to-go containers

Posted: 1:05 PM, Apr 29, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-30 14:19:55-04

DENVER – Colorado lawmakers are considering a bill to prohibit restaurants statewide from using to-go containers made of expanded polystyrene as early as 2024. The proposal faces a tight timeline with less than a week remaining in this year’s General Assembly.

Expanded polystyrene is a white foam product similar to styrofoam.

SB19-243 allows for restaurants that purchased the containers before the law goes into effect to use their entire supply before any possible enforcement of the proposed law. With a five years to plan ahead there’s a fairly good chance there won’t be many issues with compliance.

The bill empowers the executive director of the Department of Public Health and Environment to investigate any complaints filed. The business must be able to prove when the containers were purchase by providing invoices, distribution receipts, or other documentation.

Any punitive actions would come from the state attorney general based on recommendations by the Department of Public Health and Environment. Business owners could face an injunction ordering them to cease using the products.

There is no mention in the bill about recommended or preferred alternatives to expanded polystyrene.

As of Monday, April 29th the bill is up for a second vote before the Senate. To proceed requires a third vote of approval in the Senate, passage through House committees and the chamber as a whole, possible consideration in the Senate for any amendments, and finally a signature by Governor Jared Polis.

The primary sponsors of this bill are Sen. Dominick Moreno (D-Adams), Sen. Mike Foote (D-Boulder) Rep. Lisa Cutter (D-Jefferson) , and  Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Boulder).

Earlier this year, lawmakers considered a similar bill intended to assist in more environmentally-friendly practices at restaurants.  HB19-1143  sought to prohibit the distribution of plastic straws unless they were requested. The bill never made it out of the House Committee on Energy and Environment.