Boulder sees huge drop in disposable bag usage

Boulder has seen a sharp decline in the use of disposable bags.

Boulder has seen a sharp decline in the use of disposable bags.

BOULDER, Colo. — The city of Boulder said Monday that in the six months since a disposable bag fee was put into place, the usage of paper and plastic bags at grocery stores in the city has slumped 68 percent, a bigger drop than previously predicted.

The city estimates nearly 5 million fewer disposable bags have been used since the ban started July 1.

“This is very positive news,” said Jamie Harkins, the city’s business sustainability specialist. “The bag fee arose from community concerns about the negative environmental and economic impacts of disposable bags in Boulder, and this progress report shows that we are addressing those concerns and doing so effectively.”

A study by TischlerBise before the ban went into effect predicted a 50 percent reduction in disposable bag use in the first year, but that figure has been far surpassed in just the first six months.

There is a 10-cent fee to purchase disposable bags in the city. So far, about 2.3 million bags have been bought.