House Bill 22-1355, a proposed recycling provider fee bill currently running through the Colorado Legislature, is a bad idea. This proposal is bad for consumers who are already faced with high prices on everything during a year of record inflation. According to the latest Consumer Price Index released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the food-at-home index rose 10% over the last 12 months. This was the largest increase year over year since 1981. Let that sink in.
Prices have gone up as part of the pandemic recovery mode, and inflation is increasing faster than most Coloradans’ incomes. If HB22-1355 passes, it will increase the cost of the majority of packaged goods in Colorado, and those providers will likely pass all of those additional costs on to consumers. Even tiny increases in cost to consumers are an undue burden, and inflation isn’t going to stop before this misguided program is implemented.
Packaged goods are affordable products that consumers constantly repurchase, because of their short-term use. They are typically food and household products that are needs, not wants, for thousands of families who are on tight budget constraints. Food insecurity rose in Colorado during the pandemic by 20%, according to Feeding America, including for nearly 200,000 Colorado children. Adding to Colorado families’ monthly expenses through package recycling fees is unnecessary.
As a wife and mom with three kids who all eat like teenagers, my grocery bills have been astronomical lately. All parents can relate on some level to the challenge of making sure their kids are well fed. If prices are increased on packaged goods, families are further disadvantaged. Unfortunately, these increases will largely affect minority families in Colorado, as 43% of non-white and Hispanic individuals struggle to afford food according to Hunger Free Colorado.
In addition, these taxes are being disguised as a recycling fee, in communities that don’t even have equitable access to recycling efforts. Only half of the counties in Colorado currently offer recycling to the curb, and few in rural areas are able to contribute to the low recycling rates in Colorado. A smart policy approach would address public education first, before going directly to an unnecessary tax that will take hard-earned money out of regular people’s pockets.
If prices are increased on packaged goods, consumers will have to do one of two things: purchase the least expensive item or forgo the item all together. The last thing Coloradans need to think about right now is another increase that affects their everyday costs.
Lawmakers should vote no on HB22-1355 and help Colorado families keep more of their own money in their wallets.
Jaime Gardner is the executive director of the Colorado Consumer Coalition. The coalition is dedicated to advocating for Colorado consumers who rarely have a voice in state policies that would increase costs on regular people’s already strained pocketbooks.