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Chapter 6-15: Disposable Bag Fee1

6-15-1 Legislative Intent and Purpose.Go to the top

(a) Purpose. It is the purpose of this chapter to protect the public health and safety and implement the City's Climate Action Plan, Zero Waste Master Plan and the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.

(b) Findings. The city council finds as follows:

(1) The City, through its policies, programs and laws, supports efforts to reduce the amount of waste that must be land-filled and pursues "zero waste" as a long term goal by emphasizing waste prevention efforts;

(2) The the use of single-use disposable bags has severe impacts on the environment on a local and global scale, including greenhouse gas emissions, litter, harm to wildlife, atmospheric acidification, water consumption and solid waste generation;

(3) Despite recycling and voluntary solutions to control pollution from disposable carryout bags, many disposable single-use bags ultimately are disposed of in landfills, litter the environment, block storm drains and endanger wildlife;

(4) Boulder consumers use approximately 14.3 million disposable bags from food stores each year; and

(5) The City's taxpayers bear the costs associated with the effects of disposable bags on the solid waste stream, drainage, litter and wildlife.

(c) Intent. The disposable bag fee is necessary to address the environmental problems associated with disposable bags and to relieve city taxpayers of the costs imposed upon the City associated with the use of disposable bags. The city council intends that the requirements of this chapter will assist in offsetting the costs associated with using disposable bags to pay for the mitigation, educational, replacement and administrative efforts of the City.

Ordinance No. 7870 (2012)

6-15-2. Definitions.Go to the top

The following terms used in this chapter have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

Disposable bag means a bag that is not a reusable bag.

Disposable bag does not include:

(a) Bags used by consumers inside stores to:

(1) Package bulk items, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy or small hardware items;

(2) Contain or wrap frozen foods, meat or fish;

(3) Contain or wrap flowers, potted plants or other items where dampness may be a problem;

(4) Contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods; or

(5) A non-handled bag used to protect a purchased item from damaging or contaminating other purchased items when placed in a recyclable paper bag or reusable bag.

(b) Bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs.

(c) Newspaper bags, door-hanger bags, laundry-dry cleaning bags or bags sold in packages containing multiple bags for uses such as food storage, garbage, pet waste or yard waste.

Disposable bag gee means a city fee imposed and required to be paid by each consumer making a purchase from a food store for each disposable bag used during the purchase assessed for the purpose of mitigating the impacts of disposable bags.

Food store means a retail establishment or business located within Boulder city limits in a permanent building, operating year round, that is a full-line, self-service market and which sells a line of staple foodstuffs, meats, produce or dairy products or other perishable items.

Food store does not include:

(a) Temporary vending establishment for fruits, vegetables, packaged meats and dairy.

(b) Vendors at farmer's markets or other temporary events.

(c) Businesses at which foodstuffs are an incidental part of the business. Food sales will be considered to be incidental if such sales comprise no more than two percent of the business's gross sales in the City as measured by the dollar value of food sales as a percentage of the dollar value of total sales at any single location.

Recycled paper bag means a paper bag that is one hundred percent recyclable and contains at least forty percent post-consumer recycled content.

Reusable bag means a bag that is:

(a) Designed and manufactured to withstand repeated uses over a period of time;

(b) Is made from a material that can be cleaned and disinfected regularly;

(c) That is at least 2.25 mil thick if made from plastic;

(d) Has a minimum lifetime of seventy-five uses; and

(e) Has the capability of carrying a minimum of eighteen pounds.

Ordinance No. 7870 (2012)

6-15-3. Disposable Bag Fee Requirements.Go to the top

(a) For each disposable bag provided to a customer, food stores shall collect from customers and customers shall pay, at the time of purchase, a disposable bag fee of $0.10.

(b) Food stores shall record the number of disposable bags provided and the total amount of disposable bag fees charged on the customer transaction receipt.

(c) A food store shall not refund to the customer any part of the disposable bag fee, nor shall the food store advertise or state to customers that any part of the disposable bag fee will be refunded to the customer.

(d) A food store shall not exempt any customer from any part of the disposable bag fee for any reason except as stated in section 6-15-7, "Exemptions," B.R.C. 1981.

Ordinance No. 7870 (2012)

6-15-4. Retention, Remittance and Transfer of Disposable Bag Fee.Go to the top

(a) A food store may retain forty percent of each disposable bag fee collected, which is the retained percent.

(b) The retained percent may only be used by the food store to:

(1) Provide educational information about the disposable bag fee to customers;

(2) Provide the signage required by section 6-15-5, "Required Signage for food stores," B.R.C. 1981;

(3) Train staff in the implementation and administration of the fee;

(4) Improve or alter infrastructure to allow for the implementation, collection and administration of the fee;

(5) Collect, account for and remit the fee to the City;

(6) Develop and display informational signage to inform consumers about the fee, encourage the use of reusable bags or promote recycling of plastic bags; and

(7) Improve infrastructure to increase plastic bag recycling.

(c) The retained percent shall not be classified as revenue for the purposes of calculating sales tax.

(d) The amount of the disposable bag fee collected by a food store in excess of the retained percent shall be paid to the City and shall be used only as set forth in subsection (g) of this section to mitigate the effects of disposable bags in the City.

(e) A food store shall pay and the City shall collect all disposable bag fees. The City shall provide the necessary forms for food stores to file with the City to demonstrate compliance with the provisions of this chapter.

If payment of any amount to the City is not received on or before the applicable due date, penalty and interest charges shall be added to the amount due as described in section 6-15-8, "Audits and Violations," B.R.C. 1981.

(f) The disposable bag fee shall be administered by the city manager. The city manager is authorized to adopt interpretive rules pursuant to chapter 1-4, "Rulemaking," B.R.C. 1981, to implement this chapter, prescribe forms and provide methods of payment and collection and otherwise implement requirements of this chapter.

(g) Funds from the disposable bag fee shall be used only for the expenditures that are intended to mitigate the effects of disposable bags, including, without limitation, the following:

(1) Administrative costs associated with developing and implementing the disposable bag fee.

(2) Activities of the City to:

(A) Provide reusable carryout bags to residents and visitors;

(B) Educate residents, businesses and visitors about the impact of disposable bags on the City's environmental health, the importance of reducing the number of single-use carryout bags entering the waste stream and the expenses associated with mitigating the affects of single-use bags on the City's drainage system, transportation system, wildlife and environment;

(C) Fund programs and infrastructure that allow the Boulder community to reduce waste associated with disposable bags;

(D) Purchase and install equipment designed to minimize bag pollution, including recycling containers and waste receptacles associated with disposable bags;

(E) Fund community cleanup events and other activities that reduce trash associated with disposable bags;

(F) Mitigate the effects of disposable bags on the City's drainage system, transportation system, wildlife and environment;

(G) Maintain a public website that educates residents on the progress of waste reduction efforts associated with disposable bags; and

(H) Fund the administration of the disposable bag fee program.

(h) No disposable bag fees collected in accordance with this ordinance shall be used only for general government purposes.

(i) Disposable bag fees collected in accordance with this chapter shall be continually available for the uses and purposes set forth in subsection (g) of this section without regard to fiscal year limitation. No disposable bag fee funds shall be used for any purpose not authorized in this chapter.

Ordinance No. 7870 (2012)

6-15-5. Required Signage for food stores.Go to the top

Every food store subject to the collection of the disposable bag fee shall display a sign in a location outside or inside of the business, viewable by customers, alerting customers to the City's disposable bag fee.

Ordinance No. 7870 (2012)

6-15-6. Requirement for Disposable Paper Bags.Go to the top

No food store shall provide any paper bag that is not a recycled paper bag.

Ordinance No. 7870 (2012)

6-15-7. Exemptions.Go to the top

A food store may provide a disposable bag to a customer at no charge if the customer provides evidence that he or she is a participant in a federal or state food assistance program.

Ordinance No. 7870 (2012)

6-15-8. Audits and Violations.Go to the top

(a) Each food store licensed pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall maintain accurate and complete records of the disposable bag fees collected, the number of disposable bags provided to customers, the form and recipients of any notice required pursuant to this chapter and any underlying records, including any books, accounts, invoices or other records necessary to verify the accuracy and completeness of such records. It shall be the duty of each food store to keep and preserve all such documents and records, including any electronic information, for a period of three years from the end of the calendar year of such records.

(b) If requested, each food store shall make its records available for audit by the city manager during regular business hours for the City to verify compliance with the provisions of this chapter. All such information shall be treated as confidential commercial documents.

(c) If any person fails, neglects or refuses to collect the disposable bag fee or underpays the disposable bag fee, the city manager shall make an estimate of the fees due, based on available information, and shall add thereto penalties, interest and any additions to the fees. The manager shall serve upon the delinquent food store personally, by electronic mail or by first class mail directed to the last address of the food store on file with the City, written notice of such estimated fees, penalties and interest, constituting a Notice of Final Determination, Assessment and Demand for Payment, (also referred to as "Notice of Final Determination") due and payable within twenty calendar days after the date of the notice. The food store may request a hearing on the assessment as provided in section 6-15-9, "Hearings," B.R.C. 1981.

(d) If payment of any amount of the disposable bag fee to the City is not received on or before the applicable due date, penalty and interest charges shall be added to the amount due in the amount of:

(1) A penalty of ten percent of total due;

(2) Interest charge of one percent of total penalty per month.

Ordinance No. 7870 (2012)

6-15-9. Hearings.Go to the top

(a) A food store may request a hearing on any proposed fee imposed under this title after receiving a Notice of Final Determination by filing a written request for hearing within twenty calendar days of the date of mailing of the Notice of Final Determination. The request for hearing shall set forth the reasons for and amount of changes in the Notice of Final Determination that the food store seeks and such other information as the manager may prescribe.

(b) The city manager shall conduct the hearing under the procedures prescribed by chapter 1-3, "Quasi-Judicial Hearings," B.R.C. 1981, except that the manager shall notify the food store in writing of the time and place of the hearing at least ten days before it is scheduled, unless the food store agrees to a shorter time. The hearing shall be held within sixty days of the date of receipt of the request for a hearing, unless the food store agrees to a later date.

Ordinance No. 7870 (2012)

6-15-10. Criminal Sanctions.Go to the top

(a) The city attorney, acting on behalf of the people of the City, may prosecute any violation of this title in municipal court in the same manner that other municipal offenses are prosecuted.

(b) The maximum penalty for a first or second conviction within two years, based on date of violation of this section, is a fine of $500.00. For a third and each subsequent conviction within two years, based upon the date of the first violation, the general penalty provisions of section 5-2-4, "General Penalties," B.R.C. 1981, shall apply.

Ordinance No. 7870 (2012)


1 Chapter 6-15, adopted by Ordinance No. 7870, will become effective July 1, 2013.

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