Single-use Bag Fee

Did you know Coloradoans use an estimated 4.6 million single-use plastic bags every day?

As of January 1, 2023, a single-use bag fee of $0.10 per bag is now in effect, per Colorado law. Customers can avoid the fee by bringing their own reusable bags to the store.

Colorado Plastic Pollution Reduction Act

  • January 1, 2023:  A new Colorado law requires businesses with more than three locations in Colorado to impose a 10-cent fee on single-use plastic and paper bags.
  • January 1, 2024:  Colorado law will ban single-use plastic bags at most stores and expanded polystyrene foam takeout containers (more commonly known as Styrofoam™) at restaurants.
Plastic grocery bags sit in a grocery cart.

Frequently Asked Questions

What businesses must follow the single-use bag fee?

  • Major grocery stores and supermarkets
  • Major convenience stores
  • Major liquor stores
  • Major retailers
  • Other major stores that provide plastic bags
  • Including any self-checkout and delivery services

Are there any exemptions to the bag fee?

  • Smaller stores with three or fewer locations in Colorado
  • Farmers and roadside markets
  • Laundry or dry-cleaning services
  • Pharmacies
  • Bulk stores
  • Restaurants

What is a single-use bag?

A single-use bag means a bag that is not reusable and is destined for our local landfill or recycling process. The bag fee and ban are only on single-use plastic and paper bags distributed to customers at the point of sale. This does not include reusable bags that may be provided by the store or any bag brought in by the customer to be used.

“Single-use bag” for the purpose of this law does NOT include bags used in certain circumstances:

  • Bags used by consumers inside stores to package bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, or small hardware items.
  • Bags used to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, or fish.
  • Bags used to contain or wrap flowers, potted plants, or other items where dampness may be a problem.
  • Bags used to contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods.
  • A non-handled bag used to protect a purchased item from damaging or contaminating other purchased items when placed in a recyclable paper bag or reusable bag.
  • Bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs.
  • Newspaper bags, door-hanger bags, laundry-dry cleaning bags, or bags sold in packages containing multiple bags for uses such as food storage, garbage, pet waste, or yard waste bags.

When does the single-use bag fee take effect?

The statewide, single-use bag fee went into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

How much is the bag fee?

The fee is ten cents ($0.10) per plastic or paper bag.

What businesses must follow the plastic bag and Styrofoam™ ban starting on January 1, 2024?

  • All of the businesses that must follow the single-use bag fee, including self-checkout and delivery services
  • Restaurants

Must stores charge all customers the bag fee?

Major stores must charge the single-use bag fee to their customers at the point of sale, except those who provide proof-of-participation in a federal or state food assistance program such as SNAP or EBT.

How can I avoid the bag fee?

Customers can avoid paying the 10-cent bag fee by using their own bag that they bring with them to the store. Some stores offer reusable bags for purchase and customers can also choose not to bag their purchases.

Will I be charged if I bring my own plastic or paper bag?

No. The single-use bag fee will not apply to bags brought to a store for reuse, including plastic and paper bags brought by customers who would like to reuse.

Does the fee apply to bags used for delivery orders or self-checkout?

Yes. The bag fee must be applied to each single-use bag provided at self-checkout or delivery orders from stores required to charge a bag fee.

Business Resources & FAQs

What resources are available to help businesses message and comply with the bag fee?

  • Postcard flyer
  • Cashier signs
  • Cashier responses to frequently asked questions

How do businesses comply with the bag fee?

Per a Colorado law passed in 2021, stores and retail food establishments, with more than 3 locations in Colorado, will be required to charge customers a $0.10 fee for each single-use plastic and paper bag used at the point of sale starting on January 1, 2023. Businesses will retain four cents of the fee to cover the costs of administration and compliance while six cents is to be remitted to the City on a quarterly basis.

The fee will be remitted quarterly through the same platform that businesses utilize to file city sales and use tax returns and to apply for a business license.

Please note:  A new account or license is not needed for the Bag Fee requirement.

How do I pay the fee if my business is addressed in Golden but not within city limits?

Businesses located in unincorporated Jefferson County must remit the bag fee to the Jefferson County finance division. Contact Jefferson County for more information on how to remit the fee.

How will the bag fee revenue be used?

Businesses keep four cents of the fee in order to cover their costs complying with the state law, administration, training employees, etc.

The remaining six cents is remitted to the City of Golden for the uses below:

  • Administrative or enforcement costs associated with developing and implementing the fee
  • Educating residents, businesses, and visitors about the impacts of disposable bags
  • Other waste reduction, recycling, composting, or waste diversion programs

How is the fee monitored?

A store must record on a customer’s receipt the number of single-use bags and the total amount of fees charged for each bag. The bag fee cannot be included as revenue for the purposes of calculating sales tax to the customer.

This is a tax, which violates TABOR. Isn’t this fee illegal?

The single-use bag fee is not a tax and none of the proceeds can be used for other non-related government expenses. Additionally, the fee cannot be included as revenue for the purposes of calculating sales tax to a customer.

COG Mesa

 Golden has 402 acres of open space
and maintains 253 acres of parks right within the city itself.

Additional Resources

City of Golden, Colorado
COG Mesa
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