Will Vail ban plastic bags?
VAIL — Whether Vail follows the lead of Aspen and Breckenridge in either banning, or charging for, plastic shopping bags will depend, at least in part, on a pair of public surveys.
Kristen Bertuglia, the town’s environmental sustainability director has spent time recently in front of the town’s supermarkets, asking for shoppers’ opinions. The town also has an online survey on its website, and the Vail Chamber and Business Association is also asking for its members’ opinions. In an email, Bertuglia wrote that about 200 people had participated in the on-line survey as of late last week, with about another 50 people participating in person.
“The survey results so far have been interesting,” Bertuglia wrote. “Several people have said that Vail is ‘just too classy to have plastic bags and we can do without them’ … others have concerns about inconveniencing guests.”
At the Vail Chamber, director Alison Wadey said members she’s talked to seem generally supportive of some effort to eliminate or cut down on the number of plastic bags that make their way to the Eagle County Landfill. Cabal Yarne, owner of the Arriesgado clothing store in Lionshead, is a wholehearted supporter of getting rid of plastic bags.
“I’d be on board with it,” Yarne said. “I think it’s a positive thing for the community.”
It might also be a positive for the community. Plastic bags, especially grocery bags, are a continual problem for the people who run the county’s recycling facility at the landfill, because they slow down recycling other materials. And a windy day at the landfill puts countless grocery bags in the air, blowing around like mad balloons.
That said, getting rid of plastic bags entirely would carry some short-term costs.
“The cost for reusable bags is substantial,” Yarne said.
Those costs would be felt around the business community if the town bags plastic bags entirely, as Aspen did. Wadey said that’s why there are some mixed feelings among chamber members.
“They’re morally behind it,” Wade said. “But the business case … that’s tougher.”
Those are all things the Vail Town Council will have to consider if it eventually takes up some sort of plastic-bag legislation later this year.
Questions will include whether to focus just on grocery bags or the heavier bags provided at shops in the resort areas. The council will also have to consider whether to ban bags outright, or follow the lead of Breckenridge, which imposed a per-bag fee.
Those remain open questions. Town staff is waiting until the survey is complete before making any suggestions. That said, council members over the past several months have expressed general support for doing something about plastic bags.
“Once we have some answers, we’ll present the information to the council and see what they want to do,” Wadey said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2939 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.