The city of Boulder’s disposable bag fee, in effect since July 2013, is charged on all plastic and paper checkout bags at all food stores in the city. Revenue from this fee, which generates approximately $240,000 annually, is earmarked for programs related to keeping single-use bags out of the waste stream. It funds numerous local programs including the Green Bag Giveaway to assist Boulder businesses with the compostable material separation requirements of the Universal Zero Waste Ordinance, metal waste sorting guideline signs at qualified Boulder residential multi-family complexes, and reusable bag purchases that the city distributes to EFAA, Harvest of Hope Pantry, Community Food Share and other organizations.
The fee will be changing in the coming months though, as the state of Colorado’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Act is set to start taking effect.
The legislation, adopted in the 2021 legislative session, requires that cities charge at least a ten-cent bag fee at large grocery and retail stores beginning January 1st, 2023. Local governments can set their own regulations above and beyond what the state requires but must at minimum meet the standards of the legislation. Since non-grocery retail stores were not originally included in Boulder’s bag fee, the city’s ordinance will be updated to at least include those stores. City Council intends to discuss fee options this summer.
The Plastic Pollution Reduction Act will also ban plastic checkout bags at large retail and grocery stores and ban polystyrene containers and cups at all restaurants beginning January 1st, 2024.