Plastic bags are going to be a big conversation in Colorado going into the New Year
So you’ve been collecting those plastic bags from different stores for years. Sometimes they even take up all of the space under your sink, entire drawers in the kitchen or large portions of your pantry.
Well you can now finally tell your irritated loved ones or roommates that there is a good use for them, because by next year single-use plastic bags will become a thing of the past in the state of Colorado.
“Fees for delivery services that I think every municipality in the state has been ignoring,” Glenwood Springs City Attorney Karl Hanlon said during Thursday city council.
Starting on Jan. 1, stores will be able to carry recycled paper carryout bags or single-use plastic bags as long as they charge a 10-cent fee for each bag. That will last the year, and then starting Jan. 1, 2024, stores will be prohibited from using plastic bags not already on hand and will be required to charge a 10-cent fee for recycled paper bags.
“One of the things we needed to do was to make sure that we’re exempting those fees from sales tax because otherwise it’d be a taxable event,” Hanlon said.
This new law was passed by the state legislature as House Bill 21-1162, and does not give individual municipalities the ability to opt out. Municipalities are only allowed to increase the bag fee amount, yet no municipalities in Garfield County have shown interest in raising the fee.
The plastic bag ban will not apply to retail food establishments that are restaurants and small stores that operate solely in Colorado, and have three or fewer locations, according to the bill language.
The ban will not apply to any inventory purchased before Jan. 1 2024 and used before June 1 2024. The business will still be required to charge the 10-cent fee for each bag in that timespan.
The funds from the fee will be divided with 60% going back to each of the local municipalities and 40% will be retained by the businesses collecting the fee. If the store is not located in the city or town limits of a municipality, the 60% will go to the county itself.
Stores will be required to send the 60% revenue on a quarterly basis to the local municipality or county beginning April 1, 2024.
“Obviously that creates a huge hassle for our vendors,” Hanlon said. “What we’ve been doing is simply enacting our own schedule for remittance, and what we’ve done here is just have them remit at the same schedule as sales tax. That way they only have to do things once.”
The bill will also ban retail food establishments from using styrofoam (expanded polystyrene product) containers serving ready-to-eat food in the state starting Jan. 1, 2024. Any inventory purchased before Jan. 1 2024 will be allowed to be used until they are used up.
A municipality or county may use its portion of the carryout bag fee revenues to pay for its administrative and enforcement costs and any recycling, composting or other waste diversion programs or related outreach or education activities, according to the bill.
Bag fees will not be enforced for individuals who can prove they participate in a state or federal food assistance program, and the fee does not apply to packaging used for pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices or dietary supplements.
The act authorizes a local government to enforce against a violation of the act and expressly authorizes a county 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, according to the bill.
More information about the new Colorado state carryout bag fee can be found here at https://tax.colorado.gov/carryout-bag-fee.
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