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DENVER (KDVR) — Walmart stores across Colorado have eliminated paper and plastic bags at checkout in response to the state’s new bag law.

That law requires large retailers to charge customers 10 cents per paper or plastic bag if customers don’t bring reusable ones, a step on the way to a total plastic bag ban in 2024.

Instead of charging customers for plastic bags, Walmart is eliminating them altogether, and asking customers to bring or purchase reusable bags instead. The decision caught some customers by surprise, including Randy Nunez, who pays for his groceries through SNAP benefits. 

“I had expected for them to have the bags for 10 cents per bag, or no charge for SNAP benefits, and I wasn’t prepared for them to just eliminate the bags altogether,” Nunez said.

Nunez said he can’t afford to buy reusable bags right now, leaving him in a tough position.

“I couldn’t afford to buy the bags at the time, so it was kind of frustrating, you know?” Nunez said. “I had to basically take my groceries from the cart, put them in the car, and then walk them up.”

Walmart responds to new bag rule

Walmart spokesperson Lauren Willis said the move is part of an effort to “achieve zero waste across our operations and ultimately shift toward a circular economy built on advancing reuse, refill and recycling habits.”

Delivery will shift to paper bags, according to Willis.

Nunez said he agrees with the goal to use less plastic and reuses the plastic bags from the store as trash bags in his home. 

Some communities are offering free reusable bags, including Lakewood and Fort Collins, but Nunez hasn’t found a program like that in Brighton. 

He said he may need to shop elsewhere if the policy remains in place.

“I was pretty upset,” he said.