Vail Daily letter: Bag ban makes sense
Recently, on a tour of the state-of-the-art Eagle County Material Recovery Facility, I was amazed by a high tech assembly line that sorts out recyclables into different area to be baled and sold for re-use. This combination of lasers, air guns, magnets, conveyor belts, and good ol’ fashioned hard-working people has been a major contribution in increasing our countywide recycling rate by more than 10 percent since it opened in 2010.
Ask the management about the biggest problem that their incredible process faces and you get a quick answer — plastic bags. Bags in incoming material grind the loading process to a halt, get stuck in machinery, and can even result in otherwise good recyclables getting tossed in a Dumpster. Recycling is a business with thin margins, and if you want to make it work, you need to streamline and lower the costs of collecting, sorting, baling. And getting rid of a major cost factor is a great step in keeping this facility operating efficiently.
What we know:
• Plastic bags are a huge problem for recyclers.
• “Rocky Mountain Plastic Tumbleweed” easily blows out of receptacles into our open spaces and waterways.
• Other resort towns such as Telluride, Breckenridge, Aspen have implemented this with minimal guest impact.
• A large box of biodegradable pet bags costs less than the gas to get past Dowd Junction.
• There is more fecal bacteria on your toothbrush than on any reusable bag (sorry, you can’t “un-know” that).
• If you forget one every once in a while, you can still grab a recyclable paper bag.
Yes, it requires slightly more physical and mental effort to bring a bag — but doing the right thing and doing the lazy thing is almost never the same thing. I am proud to live in a community that values our environment and takes steps like this that both protect it and the associated tourist economy.