Colorado’s State Senate will consider Bill 243 on Wednesday. It’s time, said Sen. Dominick Moreno, a Democrat in Commerce City who is pushing a bill that would ban restaurants and stores from using Styrofoam cups and to-go containers. “There’s a more sustainable market for compostable, recyclable food containers and we need to utilize those more and transition away from Styrofoam products,” Moreno said during a committee hearing this week on Senate Bill 243, which would give restaurants more than four years to comply.
The continued push to ban Styrofoam pits some plastics over others. The proposed law, which would go into effect in 2024, specifically bans polystyrene foam, not other plastic, like the hard-plastic, clear food containers. Those opposing the bill argued that Styrofoam is recyclable and banning foam containers that excel at keeping soup warm will cost restaurants more.
It may not even help with recycling efforts, said Tim Shestek, a senior director of state affairs for the American Chemistry Council, a trade group. “This doesn’t mean replacement products will be recycled or reduce litter,” Tim Shestek testified during the Monday hearing. “There’s a big difference between what’s technically recyclable and what’s being recycled … None of this will be diverted from (landfills) unless that infrastructure exists.”
The reality is that nearly everything can be recycled, as long as there’s a market for it and a reliable method to do so. But consumers in Colorado don’t have access to all those options. It became even more difficult last year after China stopped accepting certain paper and plastics from the U.S. Local recyclers raised prices, while others stopped accepting certain plastics, including plastic #6, a.k.a Styrofoam.