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Plastic Bag Ban Review

  • 27 February 2015

The Vail Town Council will consider second reading of a proposed ordinance that would incrementally ban the use of plastic bags within the town at its regular evening meeting Tuesday, March 3. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Vail Town Council Chambers. The bag ban item is listed sixth on the agenda with opportunities for public comment.

Tuesday’s review of the bag ban ordinance follows a 4-3 vote of approval by the Town Council during first reading of the ordinance on Feb. 17. Two readings of an ordinance are required for passage.
 
As initially approved, the "Kick the Bag Habit" program contains 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 decision to schedule first reading of the ordinance was made following straw poll votes by the Town Council at its Jan. 20 meeting after reviewing possible approaches and listening to public testimony. 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.

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 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 March 3 public hearing, email the Vail Town Council at towncouncil@vailgov.com. For more information, contact Kristen Bertuglia, environmental sustainability manager, at 970-477-3455 or email kbertuglia@vailgov.com.

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