And yet, because it is politically trendy at the moment, this miracle of modern science, which kept so many smaller restaurants in business during the worst year ever, is now a target of Denver politicians who want to make points back home telling restaurants around the state what kind of take-out containers we need to stock. The fact is that take-out and delivery depend on the availability of inexpensive, effective containers. Polystyrene fits this bill – it costs little, it is lightweight, easy for restaurants (especially smaller ones) to acquire sufficient quantities and keeps food warm and contained for the trip home. Furthermore, since polystyrene is mostly air, according to chemicalsafetyfacts.org, its environmental impact is limited. As any business owner knows, it is not that simple. Not only are the alternative containers they propose we use more expensive – and for an industry that is operating on margins so razor-thin that they are cutting to the bone, even a few cents of added expense can be cripplingly significant – but they are also becoming increasingly difficult to find and stock in sufficient amounts.
This bill represents one of those times where intent and effect do not mesh. The intent, of course, is to reduce the accumulation of plastics in landfills, and that is a laudable goal. Unfortunately, the effect will be to add costs onto already-struggling small businesses, while producing little real environmental benefit. One of the most puzzling, and potentially fatal, pieces of legislation this year is House Bill 21-1162, which would tax, and ultimately eliminate, plastic grocery bags, and outright ban polystyrene take-out containers.
It is no secret that restaurants were some of the hardest hit businesses during the past year – we rely on people going out, and when public health orders told people not to do that, and limited our seating capacity, restaurant owners had to adjust, quickly, if they had any hope of surviving. The way most did that was to pivot their business models to accommodate greater volumes of take-out. Take-out and delivery literally saved dozens of small restaurants in Pueblo, and hundreds around the state. Unfortunately, that glimmer is being dulled by anti-business legislation being foisted on us from the state legislature in Denver.
Heather Graham is the owner of three restaurants in Pueblo and an advocate for local small businesses. She is also running for an at-large position on Pueblo City Council. Source www.chieftain.com There are better options available to address the problems this bill is looking to solve – such as increasing the state’s recycling capacity – that would work far better and do far less harm than banning these materials. Small businesses, especially now, do not need new mandates and costs – they need the opportunity to re-open, re-expand, re-hire, and re-grow.
Every decision made at the State Legislature in Denver affects those of us who live outside the metro area. And most of those decisions bear consequences that go far beyond those intended. The market may gradually adjust to different take-out materials, but the government cannot make that happen overnight. All that trying to force new mandates on small restaurant owners will accomplish is to close more businesses overnight. Manufacturers are facing many of the same issues restaurants are in terms of employees; a combination of factors, including lingering uncertainty and overly-generous unemployment benefits, are making it exceedingly difficult to find people to hire. This is creating backlogs, especially for the more-expensive products, which make things even more difficult for restaurant owners; especially smaller independent ones which can least afford added costs, delays and limited options. It makes no sense to limit the choices restaurants have available to them.
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