Carbondale to vote on bag ban | AspenTimes.com
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Carbondale to vote on bag ban

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – Voters in Carbondale are being asked to affirm or reject an ordinance that would ban plastic grocery bags and require a 20-cent fee for paper bags. It would apply to large stores only.

The question will appear on the ballot for the April 3 town election along with a race among 10 candidates for three open seats on the Carbondale Board of Trustees. The election is by mail; ballots will be sent out to registered voters this week.

The trustees adopted the plastic-bag ban, Ordinance 12, in late 2011. They are now considering a resolution further underscoring their support for their own ordinance.

The ordinance is Carbondale’s response to growing concerns about disposable plastic bags choking landfills, littering the landscape and contributing to a huge, swirling flotilla of trash in the Pacific Ocean, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Set to take effect May 1, the ban was put on hold in January when residents Mary Boucher, Lyndsey Sackett and Michelle Hyken petitioned the town to reverse the bag ban or put the matter to a popular vote.

Having agreed to put the question on the ballot, the trustees on Tuesday will be debating whether to pass a resolution in support of a “yes” vote on the ballot question, which would uphold the ordinance.

Town Manager Jay Harrington said the proposed resolution was written by the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, which is campaigning to ban plastic shopping bags valleywide.

The resolution, Harrington said, was drafted in response to inquiries from some trustees after the bag ban was placed on the ballot.

In October, Boucher told the trustees that she reuses plastic grocery bags for her kids’ lunches and other uses and recycles them once they develop holes.

Others have argued that a fee for paper bags is mostly a burden for the poor and the elderly.

Some residents are not fans of plastic bags at grocery stores but are not sure a bag ban is the way to go.

“Bags have become sort of a scapegoat,” businessman Fred Pulver said. He feels the town would be better off requiring grocery stores to distribute biodegradable plastic bags rather than simply banning all plastic bags.

He cited studies showing that reusable cloth bags can become carriers of bacteria if not properly cleaned periodically as a reason to be careful in recommending their use.

“All you’ve got to do is wash them,” he said.

Pulver also said some reusable bags are made of non-biodegradable plastics.

“Ultimately they end up in landfills, causing the same problem,” he said.

“I think it’s a lot more complicated than it appears.”

jcolson@postindependent.com


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