Summit County will compete in plastic bag contest |

Summit County will compete in plastic bag contest

Caitlin RowSummit County correspondentAspen, CO Colorado
Mark Fox/Summit DailyShoppers load plastic bags into their vehicle after grocery shopping at Safeway in Frisco. The town has joined a countywide effort to reduce the use of disposable bags, taking on the challenge along with other ski communities.

SUMMIT COUNTY Plastic bags: Beware. It may finally be the end of an era filled with disposable, one-use sacks.Summit County towns will be joining together to compete as one community against as many as 24 other ski towns in a friendly contest to reduce disposable-bag use.We had full commitment around the table, said Carly Wier, executive director for High Country Conservation Center. … All four towns and the county are now participating, so its uniform, which is really great. So we can create one message for the whole community. The message is a personal challenge to each family, person and visitor to give up single-use plastic bags in favor of reusable multi-use bags.The Colorado Association of Ski Towns BYOB Challenge will start Feb. 1, Wier said, and the conservation center is taking over administrative duties for all of the towns in the county.The Feb. 1 date will help all the communities prepare after the holiday season is over.It will be easy, because well do data collection in one house, Wier said of the center taking over administration for the cause. Well help the towns do their own internal messaging.The voluntary challenge among CAST communities could prevent the use of nearly 7 million single-use plastic bags, according to the 2009 BYOB Challenge action plan.The year-long challenge will be similar to a contest between Telluride, Mountain Village near Telluride and Aspen last summer. Those communities worked with five grocery stores to track reusable bag use through key codes at the registers.In addition, last summers contest included donations of 5 cents per reusable bag from each grocery store toward an environmental education fund. About $2,800 was raised.Some 140,359 plastic bags were spared during the 99-day contest period, according to the action plan.By the calculations of Telluride, Mountain Village and Aspens bag challenge results, about 284 bags were saved per store per day. With an estimated 65 stores serving the CAST areas, a total of 6.7 million bags could be saved in 2009, according to the challenges action plan.Assistance from the High Country Conservation Center will make it possible for Dillon and Silverthorne to participate, along with Breckenridge and Frisco town governments that had already committed to the contest.Our council is in full support of it and were excited to participate, said Devin Granbery, Dillons town manager. … Well be working with local vendors to get them on board. We havent met with anyone yet. Its all on a voluntary basis. Well be encouraging some of our businesses to participate.Though Silverthorne doesnt have a big grocery store like the other towns, there has been talk of getting Target and other retail stores on board, said Ryan Hyland, Silverthornes assistant to the town manager.Plastic bags are one of the most wasteful human creations to date, Wier said. They have a useful life of just a few minutes. Theyre made from petroleum and they dont biodegrade.

Summit Daily reporter Robert Allen contributed to this

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