Boulder grocery stores will once again charge customers for disposable bags, reinstating the 10-cent fee that was suspended in March over concerns that reusable bags could spread coronavirus.
City officials recently received guidance from Boulder County Public Health that there was a low risk of spreading COVID-19 through reusable bags, said spokesperson Alexis Bullen. The change is effective Wednesday.
Public Health spokesperson Chana Goussetis cited Food and Drug Administration guidance on grocery shopping, which states that shoppers who use reusable bags should clean or wash them after every use.
Bullen said the city has no plans to pause the bag fee in the future unless public health guidance changes.
Boulder City Council members adopted the bag fee in 2012, and it went into effect in 2013. Since then, the city has reduced 70% of its disposable bag use and generated $1 million in funding for programs that reduce waste associated with disposable bags, according to Partners for a Clean Environment.
“PACE supports reductions of single use plastic waste and is pleased that bringing your own bags to a store is very low risk,” said Zac Swank, business sustainability coordinator for PACE, in an email.
Boulder Chamber President John Tayer said the Chamber supports following public health guidance and that suspending the fee was appropriate at the time.
“Our role throughout the COVID-19 crisis has been to be a conduit for businesses for safe business practices,” Tayer said. “We want to make sure they’re aware of this change, which is a mechanism for supporting environmental sustainability that our businesses have learned to accommodate. We support moving forward in accordance with public health guidance.”