• 20220303-122526-GT20031020SINGLE-USE20PLASTICS

Golden City Council is on board with the state’s plan to require businesses to tack a 10-cent fee onto all carryout bags, both paper and plastic, beginning Jan. 1, 2023.

They’re just not ready to start six months early as proposed by the city’s Community Sustainability Advisory Board.

Last year, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed HB 21-1162, which bans single-use plastic bags and polystyrene packaging effective Jan. 1, 2024.

However, the law eases businesses and local municipalities into the ban by starting the dime surcharge on Jan. 1, 2023.

In a “high-level policy discussion” the CSAB asked City Council to consider an accelerated schedule to implement the surcharge program in Golden in July—and bump the fee from 10 to 25 cents per bag.

City Sustainability Manager Theresa Worsham said the CSAB estimates more than 800,000 plastic bags are provided by Golden retailers each year, resulting in nearly five tons of landfill waste.

“I don’t think there’s any of us that hasn’t seen a plastic bag in a tree once in a while,” said Worsham. “We also know they are not allowed in our collection programs; they get caught in the wheels of the sorting process.”

The increased fee also would mean increased revenue to the city.

The law requires that a store or business remit, on a quarterly basis beginning April 1, 2024, 60% of the carryout bag fee revenues to the municipality or county within which the store is located, and keep the remaining 40%.

The municipality or county may use its portion of the carryout bag fee revenues to cover “administrative and enforcement costs and any recycling, composting, or other waste diversion programs or related outreach or education activities.”

While Golden Mayor Laura Weinberg supports the state’s program, she did not support an early launch.

Weinberg said that while the city will be ready for the January 2023 start date, she expressed concern that moving the date up to July 1 would not only add to staff workload but could complicate public engagement.

CSAB now goes back to the drawing board to draft program recommendations that align with the state’s timeline but use the higher 25-cent per bag fee.

The law also authorizes local governments to enforce and impose civil penalties of up to $500 for a second violation or up to $1,000 for a third or subsequent violation; except that a local government cannot enforce a violation committed by a retail food establishment located within a school.