Plastic recycling better than bans

As if restaurants and other businesses struggling to survive the pandemic needed yet another obstacle to overcome, they face a measure under consideration in the Colorado Legislature to ban plastic bags and foam takeout containers.

The measure, which has passed the House, would require retail food businesses and general stores to stop using single-use plastic carryout bags as of Sept. 1, 2022, exempting existing inventory. But that inventory would have to be used up by March 1, 2023. After that, businesses could sell single-use bags for 10 cents each, with 6 cents going to local governments. The measure would ban polystyrene food containers as of Sept. 1, 2022.

Alternatively, another measure would impose fees on plastic food packaging to fund a grant program to incentivize new and expanded recycling programs.

It’s difficult to argue about the mounting problems posed by ubiquitous plastic bags. Rather, it’s a question of how best to address those problems.

The better solution, for now, would be to avoid further burdening already beleaguered restaurants and other businesses while promoting programs to recycle plastic to keep it out of landfills and, more generally, the environment.