DENVER - Colorado's capital city could become the next town to begin charging a fee on disposable bags at the grocery store.
The idea is to encourage shoppers to go green and bring reusable bags.
A committee of city council members approved a five-cent per bag fee on Tuesday. That's a smaller fee than some other governments impose.
Boulder recently adopted a ten-cent fee.
As one council member put it, the idea is to nudge you into a less wasteful way of taking home the things you buy.
A plastic bag at the grocery store is a small thing, and so is a nickel. However, the little things in life do add up.
Some worry more about how the nickels will add up.
"I really don't think having a fee, which I do believe is a tax, is going to accomplish much except hurt the lower income people," one woman told council members.
Others worry more about how the bags add up.
"We cannot afford to sacrifice any more of our resources, health, and environment to something as unnecessary as plastic bags," said another woman. "Please look at this issue globally."
The city council members seemed to all agree that the impact of the bags is a problem that needs to be addressed.
"We are spending money now to deal with cleanup costs," Councilwoman Debbie Ortega said.
She points out that millions of plastic bags make a mess of our drainage systems and jam up trash and recycling programs.
"It's not about making money for the city," Ortega said. "It's about trying to reduce the number of paper and plastic bags that end up in our waste stream."
Supermarkets and other retailers are opposed, saying that having to count bags and charge for them slows down their checkout lines.
Even a small slowdown is a big deal to a grocery store.
"Certainly our labor costs will go up," said Chris Howes, who heads the Colorado Retail Council.
To help keep up with the extra work, his group lobbied to let the stores keep a bigger share of the money raised by the fee.
"Who wants longer lines at the grocery store? We certainly don't," Howes said. "We think the fee has to be appropriate as to how much our labor costs will go up."
As it's worded now, the ordinance would allow the retailers to keep two-cents of each nickel bag fee, with no annual limit in the amount they can keep.
None of the details will be final until the full city council puts in its two cents.
As of this publication, the date for that hearing had not been set.
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