Kick The Bag Habit

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Plastic and paper bag fees begin in 2023 

Bags-01Effective Jan. 1, 2023  Colorado Law HB21-1162, the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act (PPRA) requires retailers throughout the state to charge a fee for disposable single-use plastic and paper bags. All Town of Vail retailers are required to charge a 25 cent bag fee for each single-use plastic and paper carryout bag used at checkout.  Customers can avoid paying the fee by electing to not use a bag or by using their own reusable bag. Starting Jan. 1, 2024 retailers will no longer be able to distribute single use plastic carryout bags. 

The goal is to reduce disposable bags and encourage the use of reusable bags. Vail is well poised to be a leader in the reduction of disposable bags and other plastics and is excited for the business community to join in the effort. 

What businesses are included in the single-use bag fee? 

  • Grocery stores and supermarkets
  • Retail stores
  • Convenience stores
  • Hardware stores
  • Liquor stores
  • Other stores that are a franchise of a chain located outside of Colorado
  • Other stores that include self-checkout and delivery services

Exemptions from single-use bag fee

  • Customers who bring their own reusable carryout bag
  • Customers that provide evidence to the store that they are a participant in a federal or state food assistance program
  • Laundry or dry-cleaning services
  • Pharmacies when a bag is provided to a customer purchasing prescription medication
  • Bags used by consumers inside the store for items like produce, bulk items, candy, small hardware items, meat, bakery or floral items
  • Restaurants are exempt from the single-use bag fee; however, they will be prohibited from distributing polystyrene containers beginning in 2024

What is a reusable carryout bag? 
The state of Colorado defines a reusable bag as:

  1. A bag that is designed and manufactured for at least one hundred twenty-five uses;
  2. Can carry at least twenty-two pounds over a distance of one hundred seventy-five feet, 
  3. Has stitched handles; and
  4. Is made of cloth, fiber, or other fabric or a recycled materials such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). 
If a business provides a reusable bag to customers or customers bring their own, the bag fee is NOT required. 
Where can I purchase reusable bags in large quantities? 

There are a variety of options available for purchasing reusable bags in large quantities. Town of Vail encourages purchasing reusable bags that are manufactured in the United States when possible. Below are a few options based in the USA as well as a couple of other earth-friendly options. 

  • ChicoBag is a B Corp, Climate Neutral Certified, 1% for the Planet member, and Fair Labor Association member. Pricing for 10,000 polyester Original bags with a one-color logo starts at $4.25 per bag, and 10,000 rePETe Vita bags with a one-color logo starts at $6.59 per bag. Contact Sarah Jackson ( or call 530.717.2154 for more options.
  • Holden: Reusable bags assembled in the USA ($1.48 or less for qty. 2500+)
  • EnviroTote: Reusable bags made in the USA (variety of prices, sizes and materials from organic cotton, canvas, recycled PET, and more)
  • Union Wear: Reusable bags made in the USA ($6.36 or less for qty. 1200+)
  • Reusable bags made from recycled plastic ($1.00 or less for qty. 5000+)
  • Reusable bags made from bamboo (approximately $2.17 or less for qty. 5000+)

Where will the bag fee money go?

  • Businesses retain 60% of the fee to cover the cost of administration and compliance
  • Town of Vail receives 40% of the fee to support recycling, waste diversion programs and related outreach and educational activities
  • The single-use bag fee is not a tax and cannot be used for non-related expenses; it does not violate TABOR

How does my business document and pay the bag fee?

Businesses should utilize their POS system to document the number of carryout bags disbursed and fee collected each month.  The fee will be remitted on the 20th day of the following month as a separate item on the sales tax return at  Businesses will populate the number of bags disbursed during the month and the fee will auto-calculate.  The fee is not taxable.

For more information on this mandate please reference the Colorado HB21-1162 or the Colorado Department of Revenue

Single-use plastic and our environment    

  • Plastic bags are one of the most common pollutants in Colorado rivers, pollute landscapes, and can be lethal to birds, fish, and cattle that mistake plastics as food.
  • Plastic bags are one of the biggest contaminants in local recycling systems, threatening worker safety and causing damage to machines.
  • The fee on plastic and paper checkout bags can help reduce bag use by 70% or more and save local businesses money by reducing the number of bags they must purchase.

What are the environmental benefits of implementing a fee on plastic and paper checkout bags?
Reducing plastic and paper bag use will save money, energy, water, and trees—and protect Colorado’s rivers, soils, groundwater, wildlife, and livestock from plastic pollution.

Plastic BagPLASTIC BAGS are made from natural gas. They are one of the most common pollutants found in Colorado’s rivers, and never biodegrade—they only break down into smaller and smaller plastics and get into our water and soils, or are consumed by animals, ultimately ending up in the food we eat.

Paper BagPAPER BAGS require a lot of energy and water to produce. Manufacturing a paper bag takes about four times as much energy as it takes to make a plastic bag. A single paper bag requires one gallon of water to produce, while the mass production of paper bags is contributing to deforestation.

Municipalities will save money spent on costs associated with plastic bags, including litter cleanups and damage to recycling equipment. The law also directs funds from bag fees to be spent on recycling, composting, and waste diversion programs that will help provide valuable support for local sustainability programs.


  • Am I required to charge customers $0.25 per carryout bag?
  • How much is the carryout bag fee and how is it charged?
  • I am a business owner in Vail. How do I document and pay the bag fee?
  • I need to make an adjustment to my bag fee reporting. How do file an adjustment?
  • Is the bag fee taxable?
  • What are the environmental benefits of implementing a fee on plastic and paper checkout bags?
  • What do I do with the remaining 60% of the bag fee if 40% is remitted to the Town of Vail?
  • What does the Town of Vail do with the 40% of the fee collected?
  • What is a reusable carryout bag?
  • What is considered a carryout bag?
  • Where I can purchase reusable bags in large quantities?
More FAQs

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