Avon ponders grocery bag ban; action could come as soon as Sept. 12
By the numbers
10 cents: Proposed charge for a paper grocery bag.
6 cents: Average cost of a 16-ounce hot/cold cup in polystyrene.
13 cents: Average cost of a biodegradable/compostable cup of the same size.
1.46 million: Number of grocery bags used per year at Avon’s City Market store.
Source: Town of Avon
AVON — Local officials could impose a ban on plastic grocery bags and polystyrene takeout food containers as soon as April or May 2018.
The Avon Town Council is set to vote Sept. 12 on the first reading of an ordinance banning plastic grocery bags. The ordinance would be similar to one in place since 2015 in Vail. There, grocery shoppers either bring their own bags, or are charged 10 cents each for paper bags.
The Avon ban for the first year would eliminate plastic grocery bags from both City Market and Wal-Mart. Town officials are also eyeing banning plastic bags for all retail shops in the second year of the ordinance. Vail’s ban still applies only to the town’s grocery stores.
Before the public hearing on Sept. 12, town officials held a Thursday information session for the public. Another is to follow, Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the green room of the Avon Performance Pavilion in Harry A. Nottingham Park.
The Thursday session brought a number of Avon and Vail Valley residents to the park, most of whom were in favor of the ban.
Avon resident Michael Cacioppo, though, is opposed to the potential town ordinances. He was also opposed to Vail’s bag ban.
Not all are in favor
Part of Cacioppo’s objection regards the proposed fee on new bags. If implemented, then the fee will go partially to stores in the first year and then entirely to town sustainability efforts.
Cacioppo said he believes that charge is a form of tax, which means it would be subject to Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, amendment to the state constitution.
Preston Neill, assistant to Avon Town Manager Virginia Egger, told the group that a suit against the city of Aspen regarding its bag ban is now before the Colorado Supreme Court.
Avon Town Council member Sarah Smith Hymes said the council may have to decide whether or not to include a bag fee in the town ordinance.
Rhonda Niederhauser, co-owner of the Columbine Bakery, said she supports town action on both bags and polystyrene to-go food containers. But, Niederhauser said, those measures will come at a cost to local businesses.
Part of the town staff’s research on the bag and food container measures has included looking up the cost differences between polystyrene and compostable containers. That cost difference can be substantial. The biggest difference is with “hinged, three-compartment” containers — a fairly standard to-go box. The polystyrene versions of those boxes are about 10 cents each. A biodegradable or compostable container is about 38 cents.
Smith Hymes said including a “packaging cost” on to-go orders could help raise public awareness and encourage customers to bring their own containers.
Shelley Gile, an Eagle resident who hopes one day to see similar regulations in Eagle, told Niederhauser she hadn’t previously thought about bag and box bans from a business perspective.
“I don’t want it to be a burden (on business) if it doesn’t have to be,” Gile said.
If the council acts, then first-reading approval of a bag ban ordinance — which would be enacted before the to-go container ordinance — could come as soon as Sept. 12. The ordinance would then require second-reading approval, which wouldn’t come any sooner than Sept. 26.
Time to act
If passed, then Neill said current plans would have the ordinance take effect in April.
Shawn Bruckman, of Vail Honeywagon, recommended that the ordinance not take effect until May, so businesses could get through the coming ski season and clear out their inventory of bags and containers.
Whatever the eventual timing, Arrowhead resident Bob Moroney, who came to support the proposed regulations, said it’s time to act.
“You’re establishing a big-picture view here,” Moroney said. “It’s ecologically wise to do this.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org or @scottnmiller