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ASK EARTHA: Local Plastic Bag Bans Are in Effect

 In Ask Eartha

Dear Eartha, I keep hearing about this plastic bag ban. How will this impact the businesses I frequent and myself personally?

If you’ve shopped at the City Market in Dillon over the past few weeks, you might have noticed something missing at the checkout: plastic bags! If you haven’t heard about it yet, here’s the scoop: the town of Dillon established a plastic bag and Styrofoam ban, effective Sunday, August 1. Officials in Dillon and across the county recognized the worldwide plastic problem and are taking local action.

It gets better. Gov. Polis recently signed a bill that repeals a statute restricting towns, cities, and counties from banning or regulating plastic products. Previously, it was technically illegal for towns and cities to ban materials like plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam take-out containers. You may have noticed fees for plastic bags in Breckenridge and Frisco. This was the initial workaround attempting to reduce plastic bags and encourage consumers to bring reusable bags.

The state bill, called the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, also prohibits most retailers and restaurants from providing single-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers beginning January 1, 2024. There was a slight concern that the state could take legal action on the municipalities implementing these bans prior to 2024, but the municipalities feel they will be granted grace from the state as they are taking a fast-track approach.

Here’s what you need to know about the current and upcoming bag ban ordinances.

Dillon

  • Effective: August 1, 2021
  • Grocery stores: Ban on disposable, single-use plastic bags provided at check-out specifically for the purpose of transporting goods. Affected stores may charge customers for paper bags, with prior approval from the town. These details only apply to stores with permanent foundations and over 10,000 square feet of space.
  • Retail stores: Not affected
  • Restaurants: Ban on polystyrene (Styrofoam) take-out containers.

Frisco

  • Effective: September 1, 2021
  • Grocery and retail stores: Ban on disposable, single-use plastic bags and paper bags with less than 40% post-consumer recycled material. Paper bags – with at least 40% post-consumer recycled material – will be available for $0.25 each. Excluded from these guidelines are businesses where retail sales are secondary to the primary activity such as salons and spas. Also excluded are temporary vendors, for example, merchant booths at a festival.
  • Restaurants: Ban on disposable, single-use plastic bags and paper bags with less than 40% post-consumer recycled materials. No fee on paper bags.

Breckenridge

  • Effective: September 1, 2021
  • Grocery and retail stores: Ban on disposable, single-use plastic bags and paper bags with less than 40% post-consumer recycled materials. Paper bags – with at least 40% post-consumer recycled material – will be available for $0.10 each. Excluded from these guidelines are businesses where retail sales are secondary to the primary activity like salons and spas. Also excluded are temporary vendors, for example, a craft or food vendor at the Sunday Market.
  • Restaurants: Ban on disposable, single-use plastic bags and paper bags with less than 40% post-consumer recycled materials. No fee on paper bags.

Let’s talk exceptions. Residents on food assistance programs will be exempt from the brown bag fee in all towns. Also exempt from the rule are plastic bags you wouldn’t normally see at the check-out. This includes produce, frozen food, flower, and bakery bags.

If you already bring reusable bags when you go shopping, these ordinances will have little to no impact on your household. If you don’t typically bring reusable bags or if you often forget them, now’s the time to build your reusable bag habit. Keep a few in your car and at your front door. When you prioritize reusable bags, you’re preventing waste and saving on bag fees every time you shop.

Did you know?

If you forget your reusables and end up with brown paper bags, recycle them at the drop-off centers in the cardboard container, or in your single stream recycling bin.

Eliminating plastic bags and/or polystyrene containers is a major step toward protecting our environment, and there are many more ways for both individuals and businesses to take action. Check out HighCountryConservation.org to learn more about Resource Wise, which helps businesses reduce energy use, improve recycling, and so much more. This program is free for most businesses in the county. As for you and me, let’s remember our reusables and keep building those good habits.

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