Coupled with the state’s polystyrene and large store plastic bag bans, the city’s bag fee helps discourage single-use items and prevent waste.

On Jan. 1, 2024, the City of Boulder’s Disposable Bag Fee will expand to all retail stores in the city. All disposable checkout bags will be charged a ten-cent fee per bag.

On that date, the state will also implement a ban on plastic checkout bags at large stores, and a ban on polystyrene (Styrofoam) cup and food containers at all retail food establishments in Colorado. Plastic carryout bags are being phased out of large stores in Colorado as part of the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. The statewide plastic bag ban will help create consistency across the state and maximize waste reduction.

“These changes will help move Boulder toward its vision of a more circular local economy,” said Jamie Harkins, the city’s sustainability senior manager of circular economies. “Every single-use bag and container prevented means less waste in the landfill and less burden on our planet. Bringing a reusable tote, declining a bag at checkout, using a takeout container from home or opting for a service like DeliverZero are simple ways to take action toward circularity.”

Circular economies are resilient and regenerative systems that rethink how materials are produced, used and discarded. Reducing our consumption and reusing instead of buying new are powerful ways to shrink our collective environmental impact, while supporting a more circular economy and creating less waste to divert from the landfill.

Shoppers can avoid paying the fee by bringing their own reusable bags to the store or by asking cashiers not to bag purchases. New and used reusable bags are sold at many grocery, clothing and thrift stores around town.

Learn more about bag fee and explore Boulder’s circular economy work.

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