Town of Vail enacts ban on grocery bags
The new ordinance in Vail bans plastic grocery bags — most other retail bags are exempt. Shoppers can bring their own bags or pay 10 cents each for paper.
The ordinance takes effect Aug. 1.
VAIL — The vote was close, but the Vail Town Council Tuesday gave final approval to an ordinance banning plastic grocery bags in town.
Between research and public discussion, the final version of the ordinance took months to bring to council. Even then, and with a good deal of public support, the vote for final approval was 4-3, with Mayor Andy Daly and council members Ludwig Kurz, Margaret Rogers and Dave Chapin voting in favor. Council members Jenn Bruno, Greg Moffet and Dale Bugby opposed the ordinance.
OPINIONS OF THOSE OPPOSED
Bruno said she opposed the ordinance because she’d prefer to see a fee on plastic bags, since paper bags are more environmentally damaging to produce and transport.
Town environmental sustainability manager Kristen Bertuglia countered that in the long run, plastic bags cause more environmental damage since they can’t be recycled.
Moffet said he’s skeptical about “consciousness-raising by law… and I’m not convinced this reduces our carbon footprint.”
Bugby said his opposition was to the fee on bags and the way the ordinance splits money between stores and town. That fee, he said, will be passed on to consumers.
PUBLIC IN FAVOR OF BAN
But residents seem to want the ban.
Among those residents was Dick Cleveland, former council member and mayor.
“I’ve never been accused of being an environmentalist,” Cleveland said, adding that he supports the measure because grocery bags today are truly “single use.”
“The bags barely make it home,” Cleveland said. “You can’t re-use them, so it’s time to get rid of them.”
Resident Bart Longworth told the council he works two retail jobs in Vail. At the small store where he works in Lionshead, the plastic bags rarely make it out the door before being thrown away, Longworth said. His other employer, 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits in Vail Village, gives away reusable burlap bags that are a big hit, he said.
Shawn Bruckman told council members that more people supporting the ban would have been at Tuesday’s meeting, but a film that night at the Walking Mountains Science Center probably kept people from attending — something Daly confirmed by referring to council members’ packed email inboxes.
“A lot of people support sustainability and what the bag ban stands for,” Bruckman said.
Bertuglia said although the town has spent roughly $4 million over the past few years to cut its energy use by about 18 percent, the bag issue seems to have struck a nerve with the public.
“I’ve been doing (this job) for about six years, and the biggest single question I hear is, ‘What are you doing about plastic bags?’,” Bertuglia said. “The community sees bags on a daily basis.”
‘GREAT PLACE TO START’
Council supporters said the ban is a good start and continues the town’s existing environmental efforts.
“This isn’t a perfect ordinance, but it’s the right thing to do,” Chapin said.
Daly echoed those comments, adding that he didn’t believe any version of a bag ban could have earned unanimous support.
“This is a great place to start, and we can build on it,” Daly said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.