In the United States, at both the state and national levels, it takes time to pass a new law. First, the proposal must be sponsored by one or more members of the governing legislative body. This sponsor generates interest in the Bill. When it is proposed to the congressional Chamber, if there is interest, it is assigned to a committee(s), who read it, amend it, word it, and (if approved), release it back to the Chamber where it originated. Some Bills get buried in Committee. Then, that Chamber, Senate or House, reviews it, possibly amends it, and votes on it. If it passes, it moves on to the other Chamber who similarly read it. They, then, can pass it, kill it, or amend it. If passed, it goes to the Governor or President for signature. If amended, it returns to the original Chamber and the process reinitiates. This takes time. There are advantages to this. New laws make changes to the expectations of life. When laws change suddenly, it causes economic imbalance and a perception of insecurity. Perhaps this is why the wheels of government turn slowly.
Sometimes, in order to give people and businesses time to readjust, laws are enacted with a future effective date. This allows time to design the regulations that will accompany enforcement. It also allows businesses to make necessary adjustments to operations, and for people to consider the changes to their lives. Many of the laws passed by the 117th U.S. Congress provided funds for various uses, but much of these remunerations required application to access them. The intricate webbing of available funds, each with its own qualifications, are accessible to attentive individuals, businesses, and governmental entities and most laws allow for discovery time before the deadline.
Conversely, some laws restrict what we take for granted. This can, in some cases be necessary. If less than 10% of the 100,000,000,000,000 flimsy plastic shopping bags used in the USA each year get recycled – that leaves over 90 billion bags headed to the landfill. 10 States have already enacted bans: CA-CT-DE-HI-MN-NJ-NY-OR-WA-VT. In 2021, Colorado has passed a law, HB21-1162, that restricts the proliferation of single use plastic shopping bags. However, it did not go into effect immediately. January 1, 2023 (now, finally, just around the corner), will commence the 10-cent fee for single use bags, 60% to be submitted for governmental ecological improvement. On January 1, 2024, HB21-1162 will ban single use plastic bags and require paper bags be made of recyclable material. (It will also ban the use of expanded polystyrene for food service.) Large grocery stores in Fort Collins already have such a ban. Stores have been experimenting with replacement opportunities, most of them reusable bags for purchase.
Movements such as this change the operations of many organizations, both business and governmental. Larimer County is building a new landfill and adding services at the old landfill location. To find out how this will affect solid waste disposal in the Estes Valley, and to prepare for the expected 2023 Transfer Station fee increase, attend the in-person meeting hosted by League of Women Voters of Estes Park, 1 p.m., Nov 16, at the Estes Valley Library.
Colorado also passed HB22-1355, requiring all producers of packaging and products that use packaging to join an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) alliance to consider the ecology of their packaging. However, there is much to do before initiation, so that requirement becomes fully effective July 1, 2025. During the interim, we have also benefitted from EPR laws passed in other states (ME-OR-CA) and over 35 countries, because this interests large corporations. Amazon is pursuing zero waste by reducing shipping weight, avoiding plastic, and increasing recyclable paper in shipping products. Walmart Stores are attempting to be zero waste by 2025. They plan to take stores in Colorado bagless in 2023, one year ahead of the legal requirement. Bagless: meaning no disposable, single-use bags with, according to Walmart, a 12-minute average useful life. Walmart plans to offer a $2 blue cloth bag sporting the word “Walmart” in block letters as an alternative, but expects many customers to bring their own reusable bags, crates, laundry baskets, etc. One EPR consortium, Closed Loop Partners, has developed “Beyond the Bag”, asking for creative ideas to replace single use bags. (Contest ended in September.) One proposal suggested instituting the GOATOTE vending machine where customers can get a cloth bag (if they forget their own), returnable in 30 days. That is inventive.
This kind of creativity is the intent of the EPR laws.
Agree? Disagree? Comments. RRRcyc@signsandwishes.com.