City of Boulder’s Proposed New Zero Waste Policy: A Fee On Single-Use Bags
The choice to use single-use bags comes at a price to the city in litter cleanup, pollution, and wasted energy and resources like natural gas, petroleum and trees. In accordance with the "polluter pays" principle, the price of choosing to pollute should be paid by the polluter, rather than by the community-at-large.
Several individuals and organizations, including Eco-Cycle, have recently been urging the Boulder City Council to join the movement gaining traction around the world to either ban or tax the use of wasteful, single-use plastic and paper bags.
Eco-Cycle strongly supports the idea of charging a small fee (10 cents) for single-use bags (both paper and plastic) distributed at the cash register in grocery stores and other large food-related stores. This fee will help Boulder significantly cut down on the estimated 46 million single-use bags distributed locally each year, plus:
- It’s a perfect example of “polluter pays,” a concept promoted by the U.S. EPA, the European Union, and other national policy bodies that a “polluter” must pay more than a non-polluter.
- No one needs to ever pay the single-use bag fee if they don’t want to. Instead, they can bring their own reusable bags. There is a choice!
- The fee approach protects individual freedoms to use a single-use bag if you want.
- Judging from successes in other communities, the fee approach will reduce checkout bag use by at least 50%.
- In the future, a ban on certain bags may be appropriate, but Eco-Cycle sees the “polluter fee” approach as the first step.
Do you already bring your own bag wherever you go? Thank you!
You use 93% fewer resources and produce 67% fewer greenhouse gas emissions by not choosing disposable bags!
Having trouble remembering to BYOB(ag)?
Check out our ChicoBag! It’s made with 99% post-consumer recycled materials and stuffs into a little pouch with a carabiner, so you can keep it compact and handy in your purse or backpack. Find it on our Eco-Store or at the Eco-Cycle CHaRM.
Zero Waste Around the World
Nearly 100 communities have banned or taxed single-use checkout bags, including the countries of Ireland, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Israel, Rwanda, Ethiopia, China, France and Italy.
Here in the U.S., more than 55 cities and 12 counties have enacted fees or bans against single-use bags. In Washington D.C., a five-cent fee on disposable bags has reduced their use by 80% and the money raised helps to clean up the Anacostia River. In Colorado, the towns of Aspen, Carbondale and Telluride have banned plastic checkout bags and placed a fee on paper checkout bags.
Next article —
Future Zero Wasters: Green Star Schools Create Recycling and Composting Experts; Celebrate Five Years in Boulder County
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