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Plastic Bag Ban Contemplated

  • 21 January 2015
The Vail Town Council has directed staff to proceed in drafting an ordinance that would incrementally ban the use of plastic bags within the town. The decision was made in straw poll votes by the Town Council after reviewing possible approaches and listening to public testimony at its Jan. 20 meeting. The meeting also included an overview from a Breckenridge official who described actions that were taken in that community to reduce the use of disposable plastic and paper bags. Implementation in Breckenridge included an aggressive outreach campaign in which the town funded and distributed thousands of free reusable bags, a practice that continues today.

Vail’s “Kick the Bag Habit” ordinance will be scheduled for review at an upcoming regularly scheduled meeting in February or March and will include opportunities for public comment. The ordinance requires two readings for final approval. A review by the Planning and Environmental Commission is also tentatively planned.

As directed by the Town Council, the draft ordinance will contain the following elements: 1) combination ban on plastic bags and a 10 cent fee on paper bags; 2) applicable to grocery stores of over 3,500 square feet in size in year one beginning Aug. 1, 2015 with a phase-in of all retail stores in year two; 3) plastic bag ban would be for carryout bags only; 4) fee collected would be designated to environmental education and waste reduction, a portion of which would be retained by grocery stores for administration for a limited time; and 5) implemented in combination with a robust education and messaging program.

The Town Council will be presented with options regarding the best use of fees recovered by the new ordinance. All options presented will ensure that fees generated will be used in support of the town’s environmental sustainability goals.

The decision to include both a ban on plastic and a fee on paper is part of the town’s efforts to reduce the town’s total resource consumption. The proposed ordinance is in alignment with the town’s stated value of environmental stewardship.

A plastic bag ban was first identified in 2009 with Town Council adoption of the Town of Vail Environmental Sustainability Strategic Plan and the Colorado Association of Ski Towns Reusable Bag Challenge. The Environmental Strategic Plan commits the town to reducing waste, reducing energy and carbon emissions, and ensuring that the natural environment, specifically air and water quality are improved, and that public education is increased. Included in the plan are goals to reduce waste by 25 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

To date, the plan has served as a catalyst for numerous initiatives, including the town’s energy conservation and renewable energy projects, fuel reductions, public education, water quality, green events and the community wide recycling ordinance which became effective on July 1, 2014.

To comment in advance of the upcoming plastic bag hearing, email the Vail Town Council at towncouncil@vailgov.com. For more information, contact Kristin Bertuglia, environmental sustainability manager, at 970-477-3455 or email kbertuglia@vailgov.com.
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