Reducing the Use of Disposable Bags

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Bring Your Own Reusable Bag and Save on Bag Fees from Sustainable Breck


 water color mountains with dates, 2017 is twenty years of open space, 1961 is the founding of the ski resort, 1950 Breck almost becomes a ghost town, 1887 Tom's baby the largest piece of gold in Colorado is found, 1859 Breck is founded as a mining townWater color image of mountains with two mountain bikers, a fly fisherman, and a kayaker


Disposable Bag Fee

Since October 15, 2013, there has been a ten cent fee on most plastic and paper bags given out at retail and grocery stores in Breckenridge.  The fee is intended to encourage the use of reusable bags and dissuade the use of disposable bags, thereby furthering the Town’s sustainability efforts.  Customers who use reusable bags at checkout are not charged the ten cents per bag fee.  Revenues from the fee are used to provide public information about the program and promote the use of reusable bags.  The specially-designed reusable “Breckenridge Bag” is available for sale at select retail stores and other locations such as the Welcome Center and the Recreation Center.  These bags are also available to visitors via the front desks of participating lodging companies and on supporting lodging shuttles. 

Informational Notes

  • Research has indicated that prior to enactment of the fee, an estimated three million disposable bags were handed out every year by retail and grocery stores in Breckenridge alone.  Some two billion disposable bags are used in Colorado annually.  The fee is intended to reduce these annual numbers.  Since the program’s inception, we estimate use of disposable bags has been reduced by 50 percent.
  • The Town Council adopted the fee ordinance after months of committee discussions and receiving public input through surveys and at a number of public meetings
  • The fee was chosen (as opposed to a ban on disposable bags) because fees have proven to be very effective in other jurisdictions that have implemented them in reducing bag consumption.
  • The ten cent charge is a fee—not a tax.  All revenues from the fee go back into the program to provide public information about bag use and promoting reusable bags.  A portion of the fee is also allowed to be kept by the stores to cover their administrative costs, training, etc.  None of the revenues may be used for other governmental purposes.
  • The bag fee furthers the Town’s sustainability efforts, as outlined in the SustainableBreck Plan (adopted in 2011 after extensive public involvement).  Other sustainability efforts the Town has undertaken include solar panels on Town buildings, community solar gardens, energy upgrades in Town buildings, and a SustainableBreck business certification program.

Disposable Bag Fee - Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I get a copy of the Disposable Bag Fee Ordinance?
See the disposable bag fee ordinance here.

Where do the fee revenues go?

Revenues from the fee are divided between the retail store owners and the Reusable Bag Program fund. Store owners are allowed to keep 50% of the fee collected up to a maximum of $1,000/month in the first year of the program and up to $100/month in subsequent years. The ordinance allows monies collected in the Town’s Reusable Bag Program fund to be used for public information and programs to reduce the use of disposable bags and to encourage the use of reusable bags, including providing reusable bags to residents and visitors. None of the revenues can be used for other unrelated governmental expenses.

Graphic describing ways to be sustainable by carrying your own reusable bag, bringing your own water bottle, reduce, reuse, recycle, and walking to more places. 

Where are the reusable Breckenridge Bags available?

       The Breckenridge Welcome Center        


Skee Vue Grocery

The North Face 

Peak A Boo Toys

Main Street Outlet 

Shirt Off My Back 


South Activewear 

Captain's Treasures 

Shirt & Ernie's 

Wandering Daisy 


Mountain Tees

Joy of Sox

Cabin Fever

Spice Merchants

Arctic Attitude


The bags are also available at the Breckenridge Recreation Center and Gold Run Nordic Center. 

Should I regularly clean my reusable bags?

There is the possibility of certain items (e.g., raw poultry) contaminating other items if not properly packaged or if they come into contact with other items or bag surfaces and are not cleaned. For that reason, the Town has provided a fee exemption for bags that wrap these types of foods. We also recommend regular cleaning of reusable bags. Some reusable bags such as canvas bags can be machine-washed whereas other types, such as the Breckenridge Bag, should be wiped clean with some type of disinfectant. This link provides some good basic suggestions on avoiding the spread of foodborne illnesses when using reusable bags.

I am a retail store owner. How do I report and remit my fees?

Please see detailed information on remitting fees here.

Are some types of bags exempt from the fee?

Yes, plastic bags that are at least 2.25 mils thick are exempt from the ordinance. Bags made of canvas, woven polypropylene, or similar durable materials (commonly known as “reusable bags”) are also exempt and thus can be used at checkout without paying the fee. Other exemptions apply to the following types of bags: 

A. A bag brought into a Retail Store by a customer and used to transport goods from the Retail Store.

B. A bag that was previously used and made available to customers at a Retail Store.

C. A bag provided 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.

D. Bags used by consumers inside Retail Stores to:

1. Package bulk items, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy or small hardware items like nails, nuts, and screws;
2. Contain or wrap frozen or fresh foods, meat, or fish;
3. Contain or wrap flowers, potted plants, or other items where dampness may be a problem; and
4. Contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods;

E. A non-handled bag used to protect purchased items from damaging or contaminating other purchased items when placed in a Disposable Bag or a Reusable Bag.

F. Bags used for loose small retail items, including, but not limited to, jewelry, buttons, beads, ribbon, herbs and spices, medical marijuana or adult-use marijuana if sold by the holder of a permit issued pursuant to applicable law, and similar items.

G. Bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs.

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

Can retail store owners pay the fee for the customer?

No, sections 5-12-8 a and b of the ordinance prohibit store owners from paying or otherwise refunding the fee amount to customers. The intent of the bag fee ordinance is to dissuade customers from using disposable bags. If store owners pay the fee, the motivation for customers to avoid taking a disposable bag is lessened.

Are signs about the fee required in retail stores?

Yes, per section 5-12-10 of the ordinance “Every retail store required to collect the Disposable Bag fee shall display a sign in a location outside or inside of the store, viewable by customers, alerting customers to the Town of Breckenridge’s Disposable Bag Fee”. Signs are available free of charge to retail store owners by contacting the Town of Breckenridge Community Development Department at 970-453-3160.

For more information, contact Mark Truckey, Assistant Director of Community Development.

Remit your bag fee return here.


Bring Your Own Bag, Green Bag with wood texture





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