Denver committee to discuss 5-cent disposable bag fee

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Plastic Safeway Grocery Bag

DENVER — A Denver City Council committee will consider approving a 5-cent fee for disposable grocery bags Tuesday.

The proposal would require customers pay 5 cents per bag at grocery stores and convenient stores throughout Denver. The ordinance would allow stores to keep 2 cents, and 3 cents would back to the city to administer the bag project—which is estimated to cost $1.6 billion dollars to operate.

“We think it makes sense to try to deal with the issue of throw-away bags,” said Councilor-at-large Debbie Ortega. “We tried this for about five years, but that program saw consumers get the 5 cents. But that program has kind of faded.”

The goal of the measure is to reduce waste to landfills by 20 percent. Studies suggest 130 million single use bags are used every year by grocery and convenience stores.

Bag fees are not a new idea to Coloradoans. Durango, Boulder, Breckenridge and Aspen all have established city-wide bag fees. Denver’s 5-cent fee would amount to half of the 10-cent paper and plastic bag fee in Durango and Boulder. Plastic bags have been banned altogether in Aspen.

Bag fees have also been introduced in numerous cities including Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Countries like China have banned plastic bags entirely.

Denver’s bag fee would not apply to bags used to hold produce or meat.

Committee members will discuss the proposal and will allow public comment at the Denver City and Council building at 1:30 p.m. If the fee is approved, the proposal will be sent to full council. The fee wouldn’t be implemented until April 1.