Council Connection


Did You Remember Your Reusable Bag?

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9/6/2013 3:18 PM  RssIcon

When was the last time you brought a reusable bag with you to the grocery store to take home the items you purchased?

The Department of Environmental Health estimates that annually 130,000,000 disposable single use plastic bags are consumed from convenience and food stores in Denver.  The average use time for a bag is 20 minutes.  Despite the recycling programs offered by the city and grocery stores, few of these bags are actually being recycled.  These bags end up in our water ways, in the landfill, and contaminate the municipal composting program.  According to the local composting industry, plastic contamination accounts for a 20% increase in processing costs. 

Councilwoman Debbie Ortega has brought forth an ordinance that aims to reduce the number of plastic and paper bags in our municipal waste stream.  CB13-0501 would impose a $0.05 fee for plastic and paper bags at grocery and convenience stores that are at least 1500 square feet and receive more than 2% of their revenue from staple food or other perishable items.  Stores will be permitted to retain $0.02 of the fee to offset training and administrative costs to implement the program.  The remaining $0.03 will be used by the city only to fund programs associated with mitigating the effects of trash associated with disposable bags.  This program would have an emphasis on education and changing consumer behavior, in addition to providing reusable bags for the public.  Councilwoman Ortega has said it is important to look to the future when addressing environmental issues and she noted that, “This program will reduce the number of bags being consumed and will mitigate the impact of single use bags on our environment.”

CB13-501 is scheduled for introduction at City Council on Monday, September 16, 2013.  It is expected that final consideration of the measure will be postponed until Monday, September 30, 2013, when Council will hold a one-hour courtesy public hearing.   If adopted, the ordinance will take effect on Earth Day - April 22, 2014. 

For more information use the links below to view the archived video and meeting materials from the City Council discussion on this issue in the Health, Safety, Education and Services Committee.

Health, Safety, Education and Services Committee


·         August 13, 2013

·         August 20, 2013

·         CB13-0501

·         Presentation

Next week’s blog returns readers to City Council’s 2014 Budget Priorities Series where we will look at affordable housing in Denver.

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