Elimination of all plastic bags for groceries is coming in 2024


For environmental and now legal reasons, Coloradans may as well just get used to bringing their own bags with them when they go shopping.

Since July 1, Denver grocery stores have been required to charge ten cents for every single-use plastic bag it provides its customers to take home their purchases. Starting January 1, 2023, every supermarket, clothing store, department store, grocery, convenience, and most other retail stores everywhere in Colorado will be required to charge at least ten cents (counties and home-rule cities can set a higher price) for plastic bags. Beginning June 1, 2024, they won’t be allowed to offer them to customers for any price. There are exceptions for pharmacies in the packaging of prescription medicines, plastic bags for loose produce, nuts or candy in a grocery store, plastic bags for individual screws, bolts, nails, etc. in a hardware store, and other bulk items, and garment bags at dry cleaners. While the plastic bag fee is in effect, it cannot be charged to customers who participate in a state or federal food assistance program. 

There is an alternative for those who forget to bring their bags. Beginning January 1, 2024, stores will be allowed to offer customers a recycled paper carryout bag as long as the customer pays the fee of ten cents per bag or higher, if the city or county where the store is located raises the fee by ordinance or resolution. 

The money collected for bags will be split between the city in which the store is located or the county if it isn’t in a city, and the retailer 60/40. The retailer’s 40 percent can be used for administration and enforcement of the rule, “recycling, composting, or other waste diversion programs and related outreach and education activities.” Fees cannot be refunded to customers once paid.

The new law, titled, “Concerning the management of plastic products,” was signed by Governor Polis on July 6. It also prohibits the use of Styrofoam food containers for ready-to-eat foods by retail food establishments beginning January 1, 2024 or whenever their inventory of Styrofoam containers runs out after that date. 

Repeated violations of this law by stores could result in a fine up to $1,000.