By Mekialaya White

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver shoppers will see a price increase in their next trip to the grocery store, starting on Thursday. That’s as new fees are set to be implemented by the city, as part of the “Bring Your Own Bag” program.

(credit: CBS)

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“The people of Denver love our environment. We love our parks and our rivers. We love our trees and natural areas. We’re tired of the litter that plastic bags create,” Grace Rink told CBS4. “Bringing our own reusable bags to the store is one simple act we can do to improve Denver’s natural spaces.”

Rink is the Executive Director of Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency, and says the new program is designed to reduce waste and encourage more sustainable practices. Going forward, a mandatory fee of $.10 will be charged for each disposable bag, both plastic and paper, provided at retail stores in Denver. The fee will not be charged to shoppers who use a federal or state food assistance program.

(credit: CBS)

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“Even though paper bags are recyclable, even though there are collection bins, people simply don’t do it. Bag fees have proven to be the number one reason consumers bring reusable bags when they shop,” said Rink.

Denver residents use more than 100 million disposable bags every year, but fewer than 5% are recycled. Rink says plastic bags cannot be collected through residential recycling, and many are found littering the community, which threatens wildlife and blocks storm drains along the Platte River and other waterways. And while paper bags are perceived as a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic, they require an abundance of water and energy to produce and are not durable enough to be used more than a handful of times.

(credit: CBS)

Rink cites success of similar programs in neighboring cities, hoping Denver will follow suit. “Since the city of Boulder started its bag fee, they found a 70% reduction in the use of disposable bags.”

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The city and county of Denver is also giving away free bags right now at select locations. All you have to do is visit the city’s website and scroll down to “How to Get a Reusable Bag.”

Mekialaya White