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To reduce environmental impact and promote sustainability, Colorado has implemented measures to eliminate single-use plastic bags from its retail landscape. Since the beginning of 2023, stores throughout the state have been required to charge a 10-cent fee for each plastic or paper single-use bag provided to customers, with some major retailers like Walmart opting to eliminate plastic bags.
The first phase of the law, enacted in 2021, allowed retailers to choose whether to continue providing plastic or paper bags, albeit with the imposed fee. However, come January 2024, a second phase will kick in, prohibiting stores and certain food establishments from purchasing new single-use plastic bags. While businesses can still offer their existing stock to customers for a fee, a complete ban on selling single-use plastic bags will be enforced from June 1, 2024.
Exceptions exist within the legislation, with small, Colorado-only stores (less than three locations) exempt from the law. Additionally, specific types of single-use bags, such as pharmacy bags and those used for fruits and vegetables, are not subject to the fees and bans.
Colorado follows in the footsteps of other environmentally conscious states, with California leading the charge in 2016. The Golden State has continued its commitment to reducing plastic waste by announcing a ban on plastic produce bags starting in January 2025. Hawaii, while not having a statewide ban, saw its major counties implement their own bans between 2011 and 2015.
Other states, such as New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Oregon, Vermont, and New Jersey, have also taken steps to limit the use of single-use plastic bags. New Jersey, in particular, expanded its ban to include paper bags at larger retailers in May 2022. Rhode Island is set to join this list on January 1, 2024, or within a year of regulatory frameworks being established by the state’s Department of Environmental Management.
While some states have faced challenges in passing legislation to ban plastic bags, major retailers are proactively contributing to the cause. Kroger, a nationwide grocery chain, declared its intention to phase out single-use plastic bags by 2025, with some of its stores, like QFC in Washington and Oregon, already ceasing the distribution of plastic bags in April 2019. Walmart, having previously abandoned plastic bags in several states, recently announced plans to further reduce waste by transitioning away from single-use plastic bags for pickup and delivery orders, allowing customers to choose between paper bags and paper bag mailers.
Sign this petition to ask retailers to stop using plastic bags!
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