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New Year’s shoppers be warned: Single-use bag fees are afoot

State law requiring 10-cent charges for plastic and paper sacks takes effect Sunday
Customers check out at City Market. (Durango Herald file)

Grocery bills are about to get a little more expensive thanks to a state-mandated 10-cent single-use plastic and paper bag fee set to take effect on Jan. 1. But avoiding the fees is as simple as acquiring a reusable shopping bag.

Colorado’s HB21-1162, Management Of Plastic Products, is intended to push consumers away from single-use bags in favor of more environmentally friendly alternatives, such as reusable cloth bags. But shoppers who can prove they are on a federal or state food assistance program are exempt from the fees, according to a news release from the city of Durango.

The city is also working on a reusable bag distribution program, although details haven’t been announced yet, the release says.

Other options for free reusable bags will be available soon as well. The Durango Farmers Market will offer free bags during its 2023 season and Visit Durango, the city’s tourism office, is also working on a free bags program, the release says.

Reusable bags can be purchased at most groceries. At City Market, tote bags are available for prices as low as $0.99 with insulated tote bags ready for purchase for $2.99 and $4.99.

Reusable bags are available for $0.99, $2.99 and $4.99 at north City Market in Durango. Ten-cent bag fees go into effect statewide on Jan. 1 as mandated by Colorado’s law, HB21-1162, or Management Of Plastic Products, signed into law on July 6, 2021. (Christian Burney/Durango Herald)

The new single-use bag fees don’t just affect consumers, however. Businesses statewide are required to collect the fees, and local businesses are required to turn over 60% to the city through its MuniRevs system online, according to the city. The businesses can keep the remaining 40% in collected fees.

The city provided several examples of businesses impacted by the mandated bag fees:

  • A grocery store with more than three locations across the state is required to collect fees while a grocery store with fewer than three locations would not be affected.
  • Fast food restaurants are exempt along with other food services.
  • A small retail store in Durango flies under the mandate and will not be impacted.
  • A retail souvenir shop that is a member of a larger franchise with locations in other states is required to collect fees.

Not all businesses will be required to collect fees. Mainly, stores with three or more retail locations, and franchises, corporations and partnerships with physical stores out of state will be impacted, says the release. And restaurants and cafes are exempt from the new law altogether.

Marty Pool, sustainability manager for the city, said in October that Durango’s business community was concerned about the new fees because it was initially confusing what organizations must collect fees and which ones are exempt. The city published a guide online detailing which entities are impacted.

Affected businesses are also required to display signs announcing they collect single-use bag fees and the city also hosts free downloadable signage in English and Spanish on its website.

In 2024, another phase of the Management Of Plastic Products law will outright ban single-use plastic bags from large retailers. Plastic foam carryout containers commonly used in restaurants will also be banned, and paper bags will continue to carry the 10-cent fee.


The city of Durango offers free signage and guidance for businesses on its website regarding new 10-cent plastic bag fees mandated by the state of Colorado. Businesses must collect the fees for each single-use paper or plastic bag used by customers and turn 60% of the fees over to the city; they can keep the remaining 40% of fees as revenue. (Courtesy of city of Durango)