I introduced an ordinance requiring grocery and convenience stores that are larger than 1500 square feet and who generate more than 2% of their sales from food, to collect a five cents fee from customers for every plastic or paper bag provided at the cash register. Consumers can avoid paying the fee by providing their own bags. The stores will retain 2 of the 5 cents collected to cover their costs. The remaining 3 cents will be remitted to the city to educate retailers and the public about the ordinance and to provide reusable bags.
The goal of the ordinance is to reduce the consumption of paper and plastic bags. This saves taxpayers money and is good for our environment. Denver residents consume an estimated 130 million disposable bags a year from grocery and convenience stores. The plastic bags cannot be recycled at our local recycling plants and cause serious problems to the equipment. The bags end up in our waste stream, in our rivers and lakes, in trees, storm basins, pipes and inlets, and they litter our parks. I believe that this ordinance will help mitigate these issues and make our city more healthy and sustainable for future generations.
The ordinance has been postponed. Reducing plastic bags in our waste stream is part of the Solid Waste Mater Plan implementation discussions that are currently underway.