Get your reusable bags ready? Every shopper in Colorado is going to have to bag a new fee in the new year. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know the environmental challenges plastic bags cause for all of us. (Actually, you’ve probably found a plastic bag under that rock!) An estimated 4.6 million bags are used every day in Colorado, according to Eco-Cycle.
Unfortunately, most of those bags end up in the waste system.
While many Coloradans have recycled plastic bags or used reusable bags for years, there will now be a financial incentive to be more environmentally aware.
In 2021, Colorado passed the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act (PPRA) requiring most stores with three or more locations in the state to collect a carryout bag fee.
To learn more about PPRA, click here.
Here’s what you need to know about Colorado’s new plastic bag fee:
What is the fee?
The fee is 10¢ per bag.
The fee is not subject to state and state-administered local sales tax.
When does the new fee go into effect?
The law goes into effect on Sunday, January 1, 2023.
IMPORTANT: Beginning January 1, 2024, the act prohibits stores and retail food establishments from providing single-use plastic carryout bags to customers.
On and after January 1, 2024, stores may provide only a recycled paper carryout bag to a customer at the point of sale at a fee of 10¢ per bag or a higher fee imposed by the municipality or county in which the store is located.
What bags are included?
All plastic and paper bags will incur the fee.
The act does not apply to materials used in the packaging of pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices or dietary supplements.
What stores are affected?
Most stores with three (3) or more locations in Colorado will be required to comply with the fee.
If I have my groceries delivered, will I still be charged?
Yes. No matter how you obtain your groceries or merchandise, you will be charged the bag fee.
Is anyone exempt from the fee?
Customers who provide proof of participation in a federal or state food assistance program are exempt from the fee.
What will the average fee be for most shoppers?
It’s estimated that, on average, most shoppers walk away from the grocery store with 10 bags. And, yes, double-bagging heavy groceries will cost an extra dime.
With the new fee, 10 bags will cost you an additional $1 at checkout.
For bargain hunters, every dime counts. And, when you do the math, the fee adds up. Assuming you shop for groceries twice a week, that’s an extra $8 a month and $96 annually. And that’s just for grocery shopping.
Add in your quick trips to Target, Walmart, Walgreens and other stores and you could easily top a few hundred dollars annually in bag fees alone.
For many smart shoppers, a few hundred dollars annually is “big bucks.” It could help pay off a bill or help with an unexpected home repair.
Or, for others, it could be used for a few date nights or much-needed massage. The point is that it’s money you’re just throwing away…literally. Ten cents adds up and quickly!
What will be the fee be used for?
Stores will keep 40% of the bag fee to cover compliance and administration costs. The remaining 60% will be given to the municipality or county in which the store is located.
The fee will help to cover administrative and enforcement costs, as well as fund recycling and sustainability efforts.
Helpful tips for bargain hunters
♦ Start collecting plastic bags now for use after the law goes into effect. Just collect them in a large trash bag in the garage or kitchen closet. By January 1, you’ll have a bagful of bags.
♦ Some shoppers find cardboard boxes carry more groceries and are easier to transport. (Think Costco or Natural Grocers.) You may want to find a durable cardboard box or plastic container as your go-to shopping courier.
♦ Many retailers already sell low-cost reusable bags at checkout (King Soopers and Safeway) — often for just a buck or two. Now’s the time to buy one or two every few grocery trips, so you’re ready for the change.
You’ll also find inexpensive and durable reusable bags at retailers such as TJ Maxx and Bed, Bath & Beyond. For most, 8 to 10 reusable bags should suffice — unless you have a large family.
♦ You get what you pay for. There’s nothing wrong with “cheap” reusable bags. However, there are lots of options for reusable bags.
Many shoppers like canvas bags, because they are durable and last a long time. (Plus, they’re great for carrying heavier items.) While they are more expensive, canvas bags don’t have to be replaced as often and they’re washable.
♦ The biggest mistake for shoppers? (Drum roll, please!) Forgetting to take the reusable bags with us to the store.
To get in the habit, leave a sticky note on your dashboard now — “Don’t forget reusable bags!” After a few months, you won’t even need a reminder. It will become second nature.
♦ Leave the reusable bags in the trunk of your car. That way, if you do forget, you won’t have to travel all the way back home.
♦ And, for those who love doing double-duty, forget bags altogether. Hear us out!
You could easily just put the groceries back in the cart, take them to your car and put them in the trunk or back seat one-by-one. Then, when you get home, do the same.
True, it means multiple trips from the car to the kitchen, but it also means lots of extra steps in your exercise routine.
It’s all a matter of how you look at it. Rather than seeing it as “a chore”, see it as an opportunity to get in a quick work-out a few times a week!
Where to find free reusable bags
While we haven’t heard of any bag giveaways, will will keep scouting for them. If you hear of any places giving them away, drop an email to us at Bryan@MileHighOnTheCheap.com and we’ll spread the word.
Abraham Lincoln High School
2285 S. Federal Blvd.
Denver , CO 80219
What will we do with our household trash. Now and in the past we always put the trash in a store bag to carry it out to the trash can.
I re-use my plastic bags as trash can liners in my home and to pick up my cat litter. Now I’m going to have to buy these plastic bags in the future, which doesn’t help the environment. I guess these politicians didn’t think about that. Walmart won’t even give customers the option to buy plastic bags starting on January 1, 2023. They are going to have some very angry customers that cashiers are going to have to deal with.
I think this is a very stupid law. 90% of people reuse their plastic bags in one way or another. But more importantly, to these clowns, it’s just a dollar. But to many, it’s a serious punch – especially for tho a e who have no cars, who close late from work and decide to shop on their way home. I hope this is cancel in the next voting measure! Rubbish!
I spend at least $400 each time I go to the grocery store. I will not pay for the bags, so I guess I will stop spending my money here. Wyoming isn’t that far away.
It’s not even about the plastic pollution, because it also charges for paper bags. It’s just another tax.
Does this include produce plastic bags?
Having bags for all your groceries is one thing. Providing separate bags for produce is another
This is just another tax on the back of the people .
Why did they just OUTLAW the use of plastic bags.
Guess this gives more jobs/employment to the lazy Goverment employees
You get what you vote for. Next time you might want to consider that……
I refuse to pay for a bag, guess I will only buy what I can carry without one. Now will have to buy small bags for trash, wonder how much pollution the manufacture of those adds to the planet?
What is in the legislation to ensure store employees do not intentionally underfill bags and generate more revenue from 10-cent fees?
The bag fee is a government moneymaker, plain and simple — with a 40% kickback to stores.
If the issue is indestructible plastic bags in trash and harming the environment, then just ban plastic bags outright and skip the fee collection in 2023.
Does this apply to produce bags too?
I was in Dillard’s and bought two boxed items. I forgot about the new fee. I was told I had to buy ONE bag even though I said I would carry them to my car. I’d like clarification on this. Is Dillard’s trying to make money? I could see them using this as a way to monitor theft but I should be able to refuse a bag and show a receipt for purchase.
Slim – As far as we know, no one is required to purchase a single-use bag. It’s completely at the discretion of the customer. We would encourage you to follow up with Dillard’s. If you didn’t buy the bag, you couldn’t make your purchase? It just doesn’t make sense to us. -BKC
I was stationed in England in 1979. Culture shock hit me when I went to a grocery store for the first time instead of using the Commissary, and watched the cashier process item-by-item, shoving each item down the checkout ramp. I noticed that there were no baggers around – no one at any of the checkout lines. I stood there after paying the bill wondering when the items were going to be bagged. The cashier looked up at me and asked, “Is there a problem there mate?” I asked her, why are there no baggers? She said, “Say what?” I said, “Ok, I guess I’ll bag everything myself… where are the bags?” She retorted, “Bags? There are no bags… why didn’t you bring a box with you?” Again, that was 1979 – 44 years ago… and I always felt England was 20 years behind the US on everything. Humorous to me in hind-sight.
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What about a store with only 7 employees that only use plastic bags that customers have been have been donating for years?? Is this allowed?
Your gonna have trash all over, the truckers use the bags for trash after. I’ve quit shopping in Colorado loading truck at home, better on the wallet anyways.
Walmart is charging for paper bags used for grocery delivery. It is an add-on charge which you do not see until after delivery. Customers are already paying a delivery fee which should include paper bags used by them to bag your items. They could deliver in cardboard boxes just as the suggest to shoppers.
When a clerk refused to put my purchases in the bag I brought to the store, I asked to speak to the manager who told me “the health department states that the customer must bag their own items if they bring their own bag” I had not heard of this before, I have tried contacting people at CO Health Dept., have left messages in 2 different departments and have received no response. I have also contacted individuals at Safeway, Walmart and no one knows the answer. If this is true, that fact should be posted at ALL stores requiring customers to bring their own bags. If this is not the case, I will shopping elsewhere. Thanks for any direction you can give me regarding this issue.
Patricia. I’ve had this happen to me as well. It seems to depend on the cashier and the store. I’m sure they do it for health reasons but I’m a bit baffled by the entire process. LD