The State of Colorado's Plastic Pollution Reduction Act (Plastic Bag Ban)

Plastic pollution, particularly from single-use plastics like plastic bags, straws, take-out containers, plastic utensils, and Styrofoam has become a serious issue worldwide. Plastic is surprisingly difficult to recycle and best way to minimize plastic waste is to reduce the use of it in the first place.  

This is why, on July 6, 2021, the State of Colorado passed HB21-1162, the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act (PPRA), a multi-phased law to reduce plastic pollution. This new legislation will slowly phase out single-use plastic at large retail stores and food establishments until July 2024 when the full ban goes into effect.

The first phase becomes effective on January 1, 2023, and stores are expected to charge shoppers a 10-cent fee for plastic and paper bags used at checkout and for pickup and delivery orders. It will affect large retail stores like City Market, Safeway, Wal-Mart, Tractor Supply and Ace Hardware here in Gunnison. The legislation does not apply to small stores with fewer than three Colorado locations. Shoppers participating in state and federal food programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infant and Children (WIC) will be exempt from the fee.

The full ban on plastic bags will go into effect on January 1, 2024. Stores may continue to offer paper bags for the 10-cent bag fee. Additionally, food service establishments will be prohibited from providing Styrofoam carryout containers after January 1, 2024.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where do the bag fees go?

The stores will collect the fee and keep 40% to use for staff training, the cost of converting to paper bags and signs or promotion of the new ban.

60% of the fee will be remitted on a quarterly basis to the City of Gunnison, which the City will use to pay for administrative and enforcement costs and any recycling, composting, or other waste diversion programs or related outreach or education activities.

Are there any exceptions to the ban or fee?

Yes. Exceptions include:

  • Bags to store loose or bulk items, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, or greeting cards; nails, bolts, screws, or other small hardware items; live insects, fish, crustaceans, mollusks, or other small species; and bulk seed, bulk livestock feed, or bulk pet feed.
  • Bags to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, seafood, unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods, fish, flowers, potted plants, or other items that, if they were to come in contact with other items, could contaminate the other items.
  • Bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs, medical devices or dietary supplements.

Where can I get reusable bags?

Reusable bags are available at grocery stores, other retail stores or thrift stores. The City is also hosting a bag drive through the month of January, with drop boxes at City Hall and the Rec Center. Drop a bag if you have extras or pick some up if you need them!

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Welcome to Gunnison

Gunnison is a small mountain community on the western slope of Colorado with a population of approximately 6,560 full time residents. The population increases annually with the influx of tourism and Western Colorado University students numbering an additional 2,500. The City of Gunnison is the county seat for Gunnison County. Gunnison has a rich history of ranching, agriculture, mining, tourism and outdoor recreation opportunities that bring many more people through the community.
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