The Denver City Council has unanimously passed a bill that would require retail stores to charge customers 10 cents for each single-use plastic or paper bag they use. The measure now heads to the desk of a supportive Mayor Michael Hancock. In the likely event that the new law is enacted, the fees will begin in July, banding Denver with at least 13 other cities in Colorado with similar fees or bans.

The fees are meant to reduce the number of plastic bags Denver businesses hand out each year, encouraging re-usable containers and reducing the city’s environmental footprint. Other Colorado cities began enacting fees or bans as early as 2013 and San Francisco was the first city in the country to ban plastic bags in 2007

The fees were first broached in Denver in 2013 by Councilwoman Debbie Ortega, though Hancock threatened to veto the measure. At the time, the mayor said he believed the fees would have cost Denver’s low-income residents disproportionately more than others, spokeswoman Theresa Marchetta has said.

Instead, Hancock preferred — and still prefers — a ban because it would trigger a one-time cost for customers rather than recurring charges. His views evolved, in part, because a portion of the fees would go toward distributing reusable bags, Marchetta said.

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Author: Conrad Swanson, The Denver Post