Local News

Denver City Council to vote on disposable bag fee

Five-cent fee would apply at grocery and convenience stores

DENVER - The Denver City Council will hold a public hearing and final vote on a 5-cent grocery bag fee Monday night (9/30/13), but Mayor Michael Hancock said he has "a number of concerns" about the proposal, hinting at a veto, according to KMGH.

Councilwoman Deborah Ortega proposed the ordinance, which would apply at grocery and convenience stores.

"There is a cost associated with what paper and plastic bags do to our environment," Ortega told KMGH. "About 20 percent of the cost of Denver's composting program is taking out plastic. At the recycling facility, we saw the machine gets jammed, and they have to shut down operations until they can pull plastic out of the machine. That costs money."

The Department of Environmental Health estimates 130 million disposable, single-use bags are consumed from convenience and food stores in Denver every year.

Similr ordinances have passed in larger cities such as Los Angeles and Washington D.C., as well as in Colorado cities such as Aspen, Carbondale, Breckenridge, Boulder and Durango.

In the Denver proposal, stores would keep two cents for training and implementation costs and the city would use the remaining three cents for fund programs associated with disposable bag waste issues.
But in Denver, Ortega said she has faced serious opposition.

"A lot of the communication in opposition, I believe, is from the plastic bag industry because most of the letters I'm getting are not even from Denver," said Ortega.

But Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is also expressing concern.

In a statement to KMGH, spokeswoman Amber Miller said: "[Mayor Hancock] has a number of concerns with the proposed legislation as it stands today. A mayor always has veto as a tool in his or her toolbox and the Mayor will wait to see the final legislation passed through City Council before he makes any final decisions."

The mayor has expressed concern that the proposal will disproportionately affect the poor and elderly and put Denver businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

If approved, the fee would go into effect on Earth Day, April 22, 2014. 

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