Politics: Bagging It

Denver’s city council will consider a proposal on Monday that would add a five cent fee for every paper or plastic bag that consumers use in the city. If the bill passes the initial vote, a public hearing—and a final vote—will happen later this month.
September 12 2013, 3:35 PM

Take this fee and—bag it?

That’s what Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told city council members this week regarding a proposal to charge store customers five cents for every paper and plastic bag they use in the city.

"I don't like this legislation," the mayor told the members on Tuesday, according to the Denver Post. His remarks were a major hint that he might veto the bag bill even if it passed the full council as early as this month. Instead of considering the extra charge, Hancock urged the council to focus on the city’s comprehensive master plan for solid waste.

Members will cast initial votes Monday on the proposal. If the bag-fee bill passes the first vote, it will move to a final vote—which would include a public hearing—on September 30. The Post reported that seven of the 13 council members support the bag plan.

“This is not intended to be a revenue generator for the city,” Councilwoman Debbie Ortega—who worked to put the bill in place—told Hancock during a meeting Tuesday. Ortega has said her proposal would change customer behavior in a city where roughly 130 million “single-use” bags are used each year. The plan, too, advocates have said, would push consumers to use reusable bags.

If the bag proposal passed the council and wasn’t vetoed, the plan would be implemented next April. According to the bill, the Post says, Denver would keep three cents of every bag sold to “pay for education campaigns and to buy reusable bags.” Stores would get the other two cents to implement the plan. Overall, Denver officials estimate the city could get roughly $1.6 million in revenue in the first year.

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock