Start stashing reusable bags everywhere because you will need them.
On December 23, the Denver City Council unanimously voted to enact a $0.10 fee per each plastic or paper bag one receives from retail stores. The ordinance first passed the council earlier in December and it will now be official. Denver joins Boulder and Breckenridge in charging bag fees. Breckenridge has been charging for bags for about six years.
The law was originally proposed around a year ago by Councilwoman Kendra Black in an effort to reduce waste and encourage more people to bring their own reusable bags. According to officials, Denverites use more than 200 million bags per year and only up to 5 percent are recycled. The rest of the bags end up in the waste system, causing more harm than good.
"Plastic bags wreak havoc at our landfills, recycling, and composting facilities, our oceans, and planet," said Councilwoman Kendra Black on her Facebook page. It's estimated that plastic bags have a life of up to 1,000 years and they often break down into smaller and smaller pieces that contaminate air, water, and more.
The law will go into effect on July 1, 2020. It will be enacted in all of Denver's retail stores, which includes grocery stores, convenience stores, drug stores, department stores, and more. Stores will be allowed to keep $0.04 of each fee charged and the rest goes to education, waste reduction projects, enforcement, and more. The remaining fee will also go toward free reusable bag giveaways to encourage more people to use them.
However, anyone who receives SNAP benefits won't have to pay the fee. Specific bags like those for fish, meat, flowers, newspapers, dry cleaning, and restaurant takeout bags are also exempt.
As the cost is a fee, not a tax, and all the revenue is going back into the program, voters didn't have to approve the law.
The law has met with both praise and criticism from residents. Some are happy to use reusable bags or pay the fee if necessary. Others point to the $0.10 fee, which can add up for those on a tight budget.
What do you think about the fee? Do you use reusable bags already? Let us know in the comments.