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Colorado Passes Groundbreaking Producer Responsibility Law

The policy provides a blueprint for other states to rapidly scale up their recycling 

Today, Governor Jared Polis signed into law a statewide Extended Producer Responsibility policy, making Colorado the third in the nation to pass this visionary environmental legislation. Maine and Oregon passed similar policies in 2021. 

Eco-Cycle, one of the co-founding organizations of the Alliance of Mission-Based Recyclers, championed the bill as an imperative policy to improve Colorado’s dismal 15% recycling rate. The groundbreaking law will provide equitable recycling access across the state, a robust local supply of recyclable materials for businesses, an improved recycling system that gives producers a leadership role, all at no additional cost to consumers, and saving local governments tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. 

“Amid historic supply chain disruptions, rampant climate change, and pervasive plastic pollution, there has never been a more important time to invest in recycling,” said Kate Bailey, Policy Director for AMBR and Eco-Cycle. 

The bill was championed by a broad coalition of national and state businesses, local governments, environmental advocates, recyclers, and residents, demonstrating unquestionable support for easier, more accessible recycling in Colorado. Major international corporations, including Amcor, The Coca-Cola Company, Danone North America, Keurig Dr Pepper, L’Oreal USA, Mars, McCain, Nestle, PepsiCo, Reckitt, SC Johnson, Unilever North America, and Walmart supported the bill. As an industry-led model, the bill has gained more support from businesses that recognize the environmental and financial value of recovering materials for remanufacturing.

The goal of the bill is for every Coloradan to have free, convenient recycling that is just as easy as their trash service. Key highlights of the policy include: 

  • Companies that sell consumer-facing packaging and printed paper will be required to join a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO), with exceptions for smaller businesses and highly regulated packaging, such as medicines;
  • The PRO, through dues, will fund and manage a statewide recycling system; and
  • The program will start with a needs assessment of the recycling services currently provided in the state and the recycling needs that are not being met, due by 2024.

Learn more about the policy and the broad coalition of supporters at RecyclingForAllColoradans.org