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Boulder to vote on grocery bag fee, avoids ban for now

By   /   May 14, 2012  /   News  /   No Comments

Boulder leaders are debating the grocery bag, and shoppers could pay.

By Michael Sandoval | Special to Colorado Watchdog

BOULDER — Paper or plastic?
Either choice could cost you at the register soon, as Boulder’s City Council considers a fee on the ubiquitous grocery store bags over an outright ban on Tuesday evening.

An effort to sack the offending sacks took on new urgency after Fairview High School students pushed for a ban as part of Boulder’s “Zero Waste Master Plan” — part of an initiative to reduce trash that began in 1993 and includes a “trash tax” that brings in millions of dollars per year.

The decision by Boulder officials to postpone prohibition in favor of user fees does not mean that the city’s residents are any less concerned about doing their part for the environment.
Jamie Harkins, a business sustainability specialist with the city, said Boulder officials considered several recommendations before settling on fees, which officials hope will encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable cloth sacks to local stores.
“From listening to the community, it was pretty evenly split between a ban on plastic bags and a fee on paper or a fee on both,” she said. “But overwhelmingly, people wanted to do something about this.”
Tuesday’s vote will not be the final word on the subject, officials say.
Earlier this month, Aspen’s plastic bag ban and paper bag fee went into effect. Customers in the posh mountain resort town face a twenty cent charge for paper bags should they fail to provide their own reusable bag. The nearby city of Carbondale has also enacted a ban/fee regulatory combination in an effort to reduce consumer consumption.
Both cities’ policies apply only to grocery stores. Boulder’s planned scheme would do the same.
Objections raised against stores having to impose the “fee” on customers have been dismissed, with Harkins saying there “would be very little impact.”