DENVER (KDVR) — Starting in January, your takeout orders might look a bit different.
Expanded polystyrene — known colloquially by the brand name Styrofoam — is commonly used in takeout food containers. However, in 2021, Colorado passed a law banning the use of food containers made of the material.
The same law — known as the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act — also created a fee for single-use bags at grocery stores and included an eventual ban on single-use plastic bags altogether.
What does the ban cover?
The new law does not ban the use of the material entirely statewide.
For one, it specifically applies to retail food establishments, and only when it’s used as a container for ready-to-eat food.
Also in the law, what qualifies as “food” includes ice and beverages.
And, because the ban is specifically for ready-to-eat food, it doesn’t apply to things that were not made in advance for immediate consumption.
Additionally, the ban is not immediate. Even when the law goes into effect, a restaurant that already has an inventory of the containers bought before Jan. 1, 2024, can still use them until their inventory runs out.
After that, though, they will not be able to buy anymore.
The reason given for the ban on Styrofoam products — as well as single-use plastic bags — was to mitigate the harmful effects the materials have on the state’s natural resources, specifically the effects that happen when they are disposed of in landfills.
Businesses that ignore the ban could face penalties: While there are no fines for a first violation, counties could enforce a $500 fine for a second violation and a $1,000 fine for any subsequent violations.