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Grocery Bag Fee Proposed For Denver

DENVER (CBS4)- Customers would be charged a plastic bag fee of five cents if the Denver City Council approves a proposal designed to help the environment and cut down on waste.

The bag fee includes both paper and plastic bags.

Denver City Councilwoman Deborah Ortega has proposed a five-cent fee for every disposable bag used at grocery and convenience stores in the city limits.

"It's designed to change people's behaviors so we don't have a vast number of plastic bags that end up in our waste," said Ortega.

Right now 150 cities across the U.S. charge a bag fee including Boulder and Aspen.

"Across the board they range from 20 cents to five cents. Five cents has been proved to have an affect on people's behavior," said Ortega.

Ortega said Denver uses 130 million disposable bags every year.

With the five cent proposed fee for every bag two cents goes to the vendor and three cents goes to the city.

That's a $2.6 million dollar profit for the retailer and $3.9 million generated for the city.

"The way the economy is, charging five cents to struggling families, it would be a little, you know, unreasonable," said shopper Iris Johnson.

"I think it might be a hardship for some people and yet I understand that if we had to pay for them we might think twice," said shopper Angel Samora.

Despite the millions of dollars that vendors would generate, the Colorado Retail Council opposes the ordinance.

"We would get the two cents to pay for the extra costs and the bookkeeping and the accounting and the quarterly reports and everything else that's in the ordinance," said Colorado Retail Council spokesman Chris Howes.

Howes doesn't believe the two cents profit is enough to offset the cost of implementing the bag fee.

"We think the fee that the retailer gets to keep should be higher than two cents. That's not high enough right now," said Howes.

Ortega said despite some opposition to the proposal she believes there is enough support to pass the proposal by the end of next month. If that happens, it could go into effect by April 2014.


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