Avon council passes plastic bag ban on first reading; second reading Sept. 26 | VailDaily.com

Avon council passes plastic bag ban on first reading; second reading Sept. 26

John LaConte
jlaconte@vaildaily.com

Groceries are bagged in plastic Wednesday, Sept. 13, at the City Market in Avon. Avon might join Vail and other mountain towns in banning the use of plasic bags in certain stores within city limits.

AVON — An ordinance banning plastic bags in Avon cleared its first hurdle Tuesday en route to a May 1, 2018, roll out.

The ban applies to all retailers in town who — if the ordinance passes on second reading Sept. 26 — will have to use paper bags and charge customers 10 cents apiece for them. Those retailers will then be able to keep the profits on those bags.

The Town Council allowed comment on the first reading of the ordinance Tuesday and heard from community members both for and against the bag ban. The vote on the issue was 6-1, with council member Megan Burch opposing.

OTHER TOWNS

A common theme discussed among the members of the council in support of the ban was the town of Vail's ability to reduce the millions of bags being distributed by Safeway and City Market using a similar ordinance, along with success in other towns that have enacted bag-banning measures.

"There's not a great outcome in terms of paper versus plastic," said council member Scott Prince. "But the outcome is a significant reduction in bags. … It's a substantial impact, and I think it's just helping change consumers' behavior."

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Council member Matt Gennett said he felt he had a moral obligation to vote in favor of the ban.

"We are in a position of power … and I think this is one of the most basic forms of responsible leadership we could take," Gennett said. "(Plastic bags) are the worst things that are out there, in terms of things that we can fix."

Burch said she would rather put fees on both paper and plastic and let the consumer choose.

"Paper bags are not good for the environment," Burch said. "It does eventually biodegrade, where as plastic takes forever to go away and it poisons everything in its path. But I have concerns about saying this manufacturer is not allowed to sell these things in town but this other manufacturer who is kind of bad but not quite as bad is going to take over this whole business."

'PLENTY OF TIME'

In voting in favor of the ban and discussing its timeline, Avon Mayor Jennie Fancher referenced the town of Crested Butte, which voted in favor of banning bags a year ago but will not begin that ban until Sept. 1, 2018.

"They have given themselves a lot of time to work out the kinks," she said. "I want to make sure we roll out something that works and that's easy for our business community to digest. … We do have plenty of time."

Mayor Pro Tem Sarah Smith Hymes said the education component of the roll out will be critical to its success.

Smith Hymes pointed out that if the fee on the paper bags is to be kept by the retailers, then the town would not be able to re-purpose that revenue toward education and outreach.

"I think that having a cool Avon logo recycling bag is an important part of the process," she said.

Vail distributed thousands of reusable shopping bags as part of the town's education and outreach efforts.

In approving the ordinance, the Town Council agreed the town would not charge the fee itself, opting instead to have the retailer charge the fee and keep the profits.

Smith Hymes ended her comments by posing a rhetorical question to her fellow council members, which likely will be answered in the coming months.

"If we decide not to the charge the fee ourselves, the question is, are we as a council willing to fund that education and outreach?" she asked.

NEXT TEST

The ordinance to ban plastic bags in Avon will go before the Avon Town Council for a second and final reading at its regular meeting on Sept. 26. Comments will be welcome at that time, and written comments can be submitted by emailing dhoppe@avon.org. All submitted comments will be included in the public record and will be reviewed by the Town Council.

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