Boulder, CO Bag Fee Gets Results

Boulder, CO Bag Fee Gets Results

Boulder, Colorado, March 10, 2014 (PBBR) - On July 1st of last year, the City of Boulder, Colorado enacted a charge of ten cents for each disposable bag that a customer requested at checkout. The charge applies to both plastic bags or paper bags and is in effect only at "food stores".

Today, Jamie Harkins, City of Boulder business sustainability specialist, reported that the Disposable Bag Fee has resulted in a 68% reduction in use of disposable bags. Estimates show that grocery stores have used almost five million less plastic and paper disposable checkout bags during the first six months after the fee went into effect.

"This is very positive news," said Harkins. "The bag fee arose from community concerns about the negative environmental and economic impacts of disposable bags in Boulder, and this progress report shows that we are addressing those concerns and doing so effectively."

The fee does not apply to what is known as "product bags". These are bags used inside a grocery store to protect produce, meat, fish, or bulk food. The fee also does not apply to restaurants or pharmacy prescriptions.

On the day that the fee took effect, Harkins stated, "Boulder uses about 33 million disposable checkout bags each year and 60-70% of these come from grocery stores".

A consultant for the City had projected that shoppers would purchase approximately 3.6 million disposable bags during the first six months of the ordinance. In reality, shoppers only purchased 2.3 million bags.

In Colorado, Denver has considered a disposable bag fee and Breckenridge enacted a Disposable Bag Fee that took effect October 1, 2013.

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Cover photo: Pearl Street Mall, Boulder, Colorado. Author: Ken Kinder. Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)