Takeout will look different in 2024: Colorado bans plastic bags and Styrofoam, creates bag fee

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Food containers made of Styrofoam, also known as polystyrene, will be officially banned from businesses in Maine after governor Janet Mills signed a bill into law Tuesday.

DENVER (KDVR) — Single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam takeout containers will eventually be a thing of the past in Colorado after Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill to phase them out.

The Plastic Pollution Reduction Act goes into full effect in 2024. Polis signed the law on Tuesday after Colorado Democrats passed the bill without any Republican support.

The measure also repeals a pre-emptive law that bars local governments from passing stronger plastics restrictions than the state’s.

The law was sponsored by Reps. Alex Valdez (Denver) and Lisa Cutter (Jefferson), along with Sens. Julie Gonzales (Denver) and Leroy Garcia (Pueblo).

Bag fee comes, then a ban

A 10-cent bag fee will go into effect starting Jan. 1, 2023. Businesses will be required to charge at least that much for recycled paper or single-use plastic carryout bags.

A number of Colorado municipalities already have single-use bag fees, including Denver, whose bag fee just went into effect.

There are some exemptions: it won’t apply to small businesses that operate only in Colorado and have fewer than three locations. Nor would it apply to restaurants that serve food in individual portions.

Customers who can prove they participate in a state or federal food assistance program will be exempt from the bag fee.

According to the law, the business can keep 40% of the fee’s revenue. The other 60% will go to their local municipality or county for administrative costs and waste diversion programs and outreach.

Single-use plastic carryout bags will be fully banned starting Jan. 1, 2024.

No more Styrofoam containers

Starting Jan. 1, 2024, containers made of “expanded polystyrene” — commonly known as Styrofoam — will be banned for use as takeout containers.

Food establishments will be allowed to use up whatever inventory they bought before the ban goes into effect.

Businesses that don’t comply could face a $500 fine for a second violation or $1,000 for third or subsequent violations. Local governments will be responsible for enforcement.

The ban on polystyrene containers doesn’t apply to pharmaceutical or medical products.

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