City of Boulder Disposable Bag Fee Begins July 1, 2013
In November 2012, City Council passed an ordinance requiring a 10-cent fee for disposable plastic and paper checkout bags at all large grocery stores in Boulder. The bag fee will not apply to restaurants, bulk or produce bags, newspaper bags, or any other kind of food packaging bags.
Why Is Bag Use a Concern?
Shifting away from a disposable culture
While disposable bags do not represent a large proportion of Boulder's waste stream (by weight), they are very prevalent in number. Reducing their use will help address community priorities such as shifting away from a disposable culture.
Facility assistance and litter reduction
Plastic bags are a prevalent contaminant in local recycling and composting facilities, resulting in higher operating costs. Disposable bags also contribute towards litter around the city, getting caught in trees, fences and waterways.
Local waste diversion
While some residents reuse or properly recycle disposable bags, Boulder County's Waste Composition Study indicated that 781 tons of "plastic retail bags" remained in the waste stream in 2010.This represents approximately 120 million plastic bags thrown away in Boulder County.
• Read the Disposable Bag Fee Ordinance
• Review the Disposable Bag Fee Frequently Asked Questions
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Who does the ordinance apply to?
• All large grocery stores in Boulder, defined in the ordinance as those that are within city limits, operate year-round, and sell a line of staple foodstuffs, meats, produce, dairy products or other perishable items.
• This does not include restaurants, temporary vendors, vendors at the Boulder Farmers' Market, or businesses where food is an incidental part of the business (less than 2 percent of gross sales).
What is the City of Boulder's definition of a "disposable bag?"
• For the purposes of this ordinance, a "disposable bag" is a plastic or paper bag that is not a reusable bag.
• "Disposable bag" does NOT include bags used within a store for use with produce, bulk foods, meat, fish, flowers, baked goods, or pharmacy prescriptions. It also does not include newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, or bags sold for garbage or yard waste.
How much is the fee and how much must be remitted to the City of Boulder?
• The Disposable Bag Fee is 10 cents per disposable plastic or paper bag used at the checkout.
• Four cents of the fee is to be retained by the retailer to cover costs of ordinance compliance and six cents is to be remitted to the City of Boulder.
• The fee is to be remitted quarterly with a return form that will be mailed to each affected business.
What Options Were Considered?
Many U.S. cities and counties, as well as countries around the world, have implemented policies to reduce disposable bag use. The four main ways that communities have approached this issue is through:
- a fee on both paper and plastic checkout bags;
- a ban on plastic bags combined with a fee on paper bags;
- a ban on both plastic and paper bags; and/or
- education and outreach campaigns.
Details about how these policies are typically structured is available in the memo and attachments listed below.
City Council and Public Process
For more information, please contact Sustainability Specialist
Last Updated on Friday, 10 May 2013 15:40