Denver is taking another crack at curbing plastic bag use

Councilwoman Kendra Black will propose a bill aimed at decreasing the use of “single-use plastics.”
2 min. read
Litter on Bruce Randolph Avenue in the Clayton Neighborhood, March 20, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver City Councilwoman Kendra Black will propose a law that would charge consumers 10 cents for every paper and plastic bag they get at stores throughout the city.

Black hopes the measure will chip away at pollution and the amount of resources -- natural gas and wood -- used to produce the bags, which are typically used once before becoming waste.

Four cents from every bag will go to the retailer, while 6 cents will go to the city. That revenue can only be spent to promote the program in hopes of changing behavior, Black said.

"If it's successful it won't bring much money at all," Black said. "People will learn to bring bags and we'll make little money."

Recipients of SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps, would be exempt from the tax.

While the proposal was scheduled to get a hearing Tuesday at the City Council's governance committee, members may not advance it to the full Council until Dec. 3, after they work out details with the Hancock administration.

Councilwoman Debbie Ortega introduced a similar plastic bag ordinance in 2013 but the bill failed after Mayor Michael Hancock threatened a veto.

Black floated the idea of a plastic bag ban last December. Based on data from other cities, a fee on plastic and paper bags is a better strategy than banning them outright, Black told Denverite. She modeled the plan after Boulder's, which has reduced plastic bag use by 70 percent, according to city documents.

Black says the Colorado Retail Council and the Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association, which represents convenience stores, support the law. She believes she has more than enough support from her colleagues to pass the bill.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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