Will the town of Vail ban all plastic bags? | VailDaily.com
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Will the town of Vail ban all plastic bags?

A customer leaves City Market in West Vail on Thursday carrying her groceries in a reusable bag. According to a release from the town of Vail, public opinion about banning plastic bags — or perhaps charging for paper bags — was greeted with “mostly favorable” responses.
Anthony Thornton | athornton@vaildaily.com |

Bag-ban Bandwagon

Communities that have either banned, or now charge for, plastic shopping bags include:

• Aspen

• Breckenridge

• Carbondale

• Telluride

VAIL — The days may be numbered for the plastic shopping bag in Vail.

The Vail Town Council last year took shopping bags out of the equation while it was working on a town-wide recycling measure. Now, with the recycling ordinance passed, the council will take up the bag-ban idea at its meeting today at 6 p.m.

Dedicated recyclers view the plastic shopping bag — the grocery store variety — as something of a scourge. The bags slow recycling equipment and tend to blow about the landfill fences. At the town’s old recycling drop-off, a steel drum for the bags — which can’t be recycled — filled up just about every day.

PUBLIC SUPPORTS BAN

According to a release from the town, public opinion about banning the bags — or perhaps charging for paper bags — was greeted with “mostly favorable” responses. The current proposal would ban plastic grocery bags and charge shoppers who didn’t bring their own reusable bags 10 cents each for paper bags.

According to the release from the town, most of the revenue generated would go toward funding environmental education and waste reduction programs. A portion of the fee would stay with the grocery stores to help pay their costs.

The ban at this point isn’t expected to move toward retail stores. In case the trend does move that way, Bob Boselli is ready.

Boselli is part of O’Bos Enterprises, which owns and operates more than a dozen retail clothing stores in the Vail and Aspen areas, including Vail Style on West Meadow Drive.

In an email, Boselli wrote that the company a few years ago switched to a more environmentally friendly bag.

“We worked with Morgan Chaney to provide their Enviro360 plastic shopping bag that is partially made with recycled plastic and contains an additive that enables the bag to begin fragmenting in nine months,” Boselli wrote. “The bag is recyclable, but better yet, reusable.”

Those bags are heavier than grocery bags and have artwork of Vail Village and Aspen’s Maroon Bells. Boselli wrote that some customers have even framed the bags as keepsakes of their mountain vacations.

‘CHANGING TIMES’

There’s a cost to heavier plastic or paper bags, something town officials would have to consider before banning plastic grocery bags. But the grocery bag idea has some support.

Rayla Kundolf, owner of Masters Gallery in Vail, doesn’t bag the merchandise from that store. But, she said, jewelry and clothing stores in her neighborhood use paper bags these days. And, she added, it’s probably time for Vail to take the step of getting rid of at least some plastic bags.

“As a community, we need to make that commitment,” Kundolf said. “These are changing times, and it’s something we need to do.

Still, she added, people who come to Vail are going to want shopping bags. She suggested that lodges might provide reusable bags for trips to the grocery store.

Vail Town Council member Greg Moffet said that might not be necessary.

“I enjoy going to places that overlap with Vail’s demographic that don’t have plastic bags or where you have to spend 5 cents for a bag,” Moffet said. “I have a hard time believing people will object if we do it.”

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

On the other hand, Moffet said he always tries to look for the unintended consequences of well-intentioned legislation. He shared a story from http://www.marketwatch.com that looks into a grocery bag ban imposed in Los Angeles. Part of that story maintains that some bags need to used 100 times or more before they’re more environmentally sound than single-use bags. People with reusable bags also need to wash them occasionally to prevent the spread of food-borne illnesses.

“They landed on the side of reusables, but just,” Moffet said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.


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