Kick the Bag Habit - Answers to Your Questions

  • 10 August 2015
Kick the Bag Habit - Answers to Your Questions

Vail’s “Kick the Bag Habit” initiative took effect on Aug. 1, 2015. As part of this program, single-use plastic carry out bags are no longer available in grocery stores within the town. Paper bags are still available but with a 10-cent per bag fee. This program is part of the town’s larger waste reduction efforts. The goal is to reduce the amount of all single-use carry out bags (both paper and plastic) and encourage the use of reusable bags.

Kick the Bag Habit FAQs
Q: Why did the Town of Vail decide to ban plastic bags and charge for paper?
A: Over 4 million plastic bags are distributed by grocery stores in Vail alone and over 100 billion are used in the U.S. each year. While plastic has its place in our society, film plastic like plastic bags are very difficult and expensive to recycle, and just doesn’t happen in very high numbers. Bags get caught up in recycling machinery causing added cost and down-time for the recyclers, and they take a heck of a lot of resources to produce in the first place. Plastic bags tend to persist in our environment, breaking down in rivers and littering the highway. One ride up to the Eagle County Landfill shows us just how big the impact of these everyday convenience items really is. The Town of Vail thanks you for joining us in reducing waste in our community by bringing your own bag. Plus, they are a lot easier to carry and look much more stylish!

Q: Why can’t we just recycle or re-use the plastic bags?
A: Many people do recycle and re-use the grocery store check out bags and that is great. However the truth is that these items are not recycled or re-used in large numbers. Depending on reports, anywhere from 1%-15% of plastic bags actually end up being recycled. Of that number, half of the plastic bags must be shipped overseas to be recycled due to lack of capacity domestically. We estimate that around 4 million of these bags are used each year in Vail. Paper bags are recycled at around a 60% rate and tend to break down quickly in the environment. Ultimately while some of these items end up re-used, the vast majority end up as trash in the landfill or litter in our natural environment. In addition, natural resources are consumed in the production of the bags, it’s best to choose to reuse! 

Q: What about using the bags for Pet Waste?
A: We appreciate everyone who has found a re-use for pet waste and regret that this is no longer an option for pet owners. We do love pets here at the Town of Vail and have been providing pet waste bags at our parks, trails, and open space areas for years. There are still a number of options for pet waste collection from our use of every-day products. Bread bags and other product packaging items from our purchases can be great for this purpose. Biodegradable bags are also available in bulk, and our favorite dog owning employees think they do the job!  

Q: I reuse my plastic bags as garbage liners, lunch totes, etc., what should I do?
A: There are a number of options. There is so much packaging with our regular purchases that can be re-used. Think about the bread or bagel bag. This type of plastic tends to be sturdier than the single-use bags and can be re-used many times. The best option is to review what waste bins in your home really need to have a liner? Most waste generated outside of the kitchen is dry and it is easy to go without a liner. 

Q: Will we still be able to recycle the bags at the grocery stores?
A: Both grocery stores have agreed to continue to provide plastic bag/film recycling as long as their customers are utilizing the service. This can include plastic wrap from produce, dry cleaner bags, etc. Please be sure your plastic bags and film are clean and dry before depositing in the collection bins, a dirty or wet bag could result in the whole load being thrown away. 

Q: What is the deal with the Proposition 65 labeling on one of the Vail bags?
A: You may have noticed the bags have a warning containing the following language; “This Product may contain chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm.”
Proposition 65 refers to the “Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986” which required labeling and notification in the State of California. The Town of Vail believes that an informed consumer is a smart consumer. Please click here to see toxicity test results from our bags. These bags are certified and tested for toxicity and have been found safe for human use. Proposition 65 does not require companies to list what or where chemicals are used and has become abused to the point that many companies will post this warning to protect themselves from capricious lawsuits. In 2014, more than $17.5 million were awarded to trial lawyers in Proposition 65 lawsuits. It is not uncommon to see warning labels in restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, grocery stores, even on organic food! Many compounds that occur naturally are on California’s list. We feel that these bags are safe for normal use and have been produced responsibly. These bags are made from recycled plastic bottles, and therefore contain the compounds that exist in plastic that is used in our daily life. There is no more risk from these bags than there is from drinking out of a plastic bottle, using toothpaste, eating ice cream from the carton, etc. For more information on One Bag at a Time and corporate responsibility: http://1bagatatime.com/people-2/corporate-responsibility-policy/ 
For more information on Bagito: http://www.bagito.co/

Q. Why were these bags produced in China?
A: The Town of Vail issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the production of reusable bags as part of the Kick the Bag Habit initiative. The RFP included guidelines for companies to provide information on the price, quality and sustainability of the bags produced. Ultimately, a U.S. based company with production facilities overseas - 1 Bag at a Time - was selected to produce the bags. The submittal from this company was a good balance of price, quality of construction and sustainable business practices that would allow the town to purchase a large number of bags at a competitive price to distribute to the most people possible. Other submittals simply did not include sustainability information or were not at a price point that was practical for this large of a purchase (40,000 bags). The sustainability portion of the RFP looked at what the bags were produced from and how the bags were produced. This bag is made from 85% recycled PET.  PET is the plastic that is commonly found in drink bottles and has the recycling number 1.  A large amount of recycled plastic in the U.S.is shipped overseas to be produced into new consumer goods such as these reusable bags, synthetic fill for clothing and other consumer goods. In addition, the selected vendor, 1 Bag at a Time, provided information on third party independent monitoring from www.verite.org to provide verification of fair labor practices. Lastly, information was provided on testing from UL quality assurance to ensure that all federal standards for toxicity were met. As a result, the vendor was selected based on its ability to meet the criteria established in the RFP.

Q: Where can I get a bag?
A: The Town of Vail provides free reusable tote bags for residents and guests. You may visit the Town of Vail Municipal Building, Community Development Department, or the Vail Village or Lionshead Welcome Centers while supplies last.

Q: How does the Bag Share program work?
A: The Bag Share is a program in which anyone may visit a Bag Share location to take a bag, or leave a bag. In other words, if you need a bag and are near a Bag Share basket, take one, and if you have extra clean reusable bags that you would like to donate, please do! No need to return any bags. Bag Share locations: Vail Public Library, Municipal Building, Lionshead Transit Center (indoors at the bus stop), and the Vail Village Transportation Center (indoors at the bus waiting area).

Q: Are the Town of Vail bags washable?
A: Yes both of the bags distributed by the Town of Vail are machine washable, on cold. The Bagito bag (the blue stuff sack bag) may be put in the dryer on low, and the One Bag at a Time bag (the square, purple bag) must be line dried.

Q: How will the Town of Vail accommodate guests who don’t travel with their bags?
A: The Town of Vail is in the process of distributing bags to every lodging and rental company in Vail, and there are free bag giveaway days at both Safeway and City Market scheduled for every Friday in August, between 4 and 5 p.m.

Q: Can I buy a bag?
A: At this time, all Town of Vail bags are free, however with growing popularity, they may be available for sale in the future.

Q: If I’m out of town, how can I get my bag?
A: If you are an out of town resident or guest and would like a free Vail bag, please contact Mark Hoblitzell, environmental sustainability coordinator at mhoblitzell@vailgov.com, or 970-479-2333.

Responses compiled by the Town of Vail Environmental Sustainability Office

 

 

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