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Vail Daily column: To ban or not to ban the plastic bag

As a board member of the Vail Chamber and Business Association, we get exposed to and informed about many interesting, contentious and sometimes controversial issues. Like most people, some of these issues interest me more than others. The issue that is becoming more developed and making headway recently is recycling. There was a Vail Citizens WD and Recycling Committee that discussed this issue starting in 2009. A few years ago, environmental sustainability coordinator of the Community Development Department Kristen Bertuglia received direction from the Vail Town Council to move forward with drafting an recycling ordinance that would apply to residential and commercial properties. A number of board members were interested enough in this issue to invite Bertuglia from the town of Vail recycling program to come to a recent board meeting. What she presented was extremely interesting and informative.

The topics of interest are banning plastic bags (or charging for them), residential recycling and commercial recycling. The plastic bag situation is at the forefront of trying to decide what to do. The Chamber is working in conjunction with the town of Vail in surveying Vail businesses in regard to banning plastic bags. In reading Scott Miller’s article from July 13, I felt there were five pertinent parts of the article:

• Does Vail ban or charge for shopping bags?

• Town of Vail “survey results so far have been interesting.”

• Plastic bags, especially grocery bags, are a continued problem for the people who run the county’s recycling facility because they slow down recycling of other materials.

Getting rid of plastic bags entirely would carry some short-term costs.

• Question: Focus just on grocery bags or heavier bags provided at shops?

I am very interested in the results of the survey. The town of Vail survey is “interesting,” according to Bertuglia. My interpretation of that statement is that there are probably as many for as against. I will be interested to see if the VCBA’s polling of town businesses garners similar results. Personally, I think it will be close to a 50-50 split. As of last Thursday approximately 100 people have responded to the online survey through the VCBA e-newsletter. More importantly, we have gone door to door and spoken with about 100 businesses in regard to their opinion or outlook on banning plastic bags. The VBCA has compiled the information and gave it to Bertuglia and her team late last week. The VCBA will continue to stay abreast of the plastic bag issue and relay any pertinent information to the business people in Vail. It is my understanding that the town of Vail survey was focused at the grocery markets, really concentrating on the grocery bag issue. The VCBA survey went to businesses in Vail concentrating on the shopper bag issue.

The town of Vail and Town Council have received input from both Breckenridge and Aspen concerning the problems and questions that they were faced with when dealing with the same plastic bag issue. I certainly believe that the town of Vail will proceed towards legislation regarding plastic bags. If you have an interest in expressing your opinion, go to the town of Vail online survey on their website.

And since August is upon us, and since I am a huge fan of baseball, I will close with a baseball riddle. I will give you a “sure winner on the rules of baseball to win a bar bet.” This is based on an actual play — bases loaded, two outs, batter doubles. All runners score, but the runner on first missed second rounding the bases. The defensive team successfully appeals. How many runs score on the play? The answer will be revealed in the next VCBA e-newsletter — stay tuned!

Stay involved and stay informed. If you are not already receiving the VCBA weekly newsletter, email us at info@vailchamber.org to start receiving it.

If you are interested in finding out more about the VCBA and what we have to offer to businesses in and that do business in Vail call 970-477-0755 or email info@vailchamber.org. Based in Vail Village, our office is located on top of the Vail Transportation Center, so stop by and say hello.

Michael Staughton is co-owner of Los Amigos and Russell’s in Vail Village. He is a board member of the Vail Chamber and Business Association.


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