Colorado lawmakers want to ramp up recycling participation in the state by requiring producers to pay into a fund based on their product packaging and then using that money to create a statewide recycling program. “This is a big problem and it calls for dramatic action. Consumers can’t tackle our waste problem alone,” Rep. Lisa Cutter said during committee testimony on April 7. “Experts from all over the world believe that there must be shared responsibility to make transformational change.”

Cutter, a Littleton Democrat, is the prime sponsor of HB22-1355, dubbed the “Producer Responsibility” bill. A 2021 report found that only 15% of waste in Colorado is recycled, well below the national average of 32%, and bill sponsors want to increase that rate. The bill passed on a 7-5 vote from the House Committee on Energy and Environment on Wednesday after being laid over from its first hearing on April 7. It is co-prime sponsored by Sen. Kevin Priola, a Republican from Henderson, and Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Democrat from Denver.

The bill would require companies that sell products in the state to pay into a producer responsibility organization, or PRO, also known as an extended producer responsibility program, with dues based on how much waste comes from materials such as the boxes, envelopes and filling the company uses to ship products. Dues would be less for materials that are easy to recycle or have a high level of recycled content, which bill sponsors hope will encourage better design. “Costs for Colorado would be set by the PRO and determined by the needs assessment at PRO plan. So it’s going to be based on what Colorado actually needs, not just some random amount,” Cutter explained.

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Author: Sara Wilson, Colorado Newsline
Image: Quentin Young, Colorado Newsline