BRECKENRIDGE - The town of Breckenridge will confront the brewing question of the future of single-use bags at tonight's town council work session, and consider a proposal to implement a phased combination ban and fee plan on larger grocers.
The council is set to vet the proposal put forward by the SustainableBreck business task force, which calls for plastic bags to be completely banned at high-volume grocery stores within six months and a fee implemented on the use of paper bags. The action plan also suggests benchmarks for reduced bag use be set for smaller retailers and a marketing and education campaign be launched to help inform the public of the program and its purpose, according to a public memo from Breckenridge staffers to the council. Under the task force recommendation, revenues from paper bag fees would be split to reimburse grocery stores for administrative costs and to back the marketing program.
Large grocers and liquor stores generate approximately 60 percent of the more than 3 million bags used in Breckenridge each year, according to rough estimates included in the memo. City Market did not provide the town data on bag usage.
City Market representatives did participate in some, but not all of the task force discussions around strategies for bag-reductions and the formulation of the plan that will be presented today, according to town staff. They have not offered any formal feedback on the plan.
Local retailers participated in the discussions as well, but opposed any kind of catch-all bag ban or fee program.
"Although all task force participants indicated a desire to see environmental improvement in our community, most were unwilling to support any of the above strategies if they applied across the board to all Breckenridge retailers," the memo states. "At least one task force member was supportive of a ban/fee, but all retailers that participated were opposed to that approach."
The issue is set to be discussed at today's work session at 4:15.
Both Aspen and Telluride have implemented somewhat-successful bag bans in recent years.
"... the public generally has been fine with the adjustments, and there has not been a lot of negative reaction," the staff memo states. "Task force members have visited Telluride this summer and we observed a large number of shoppers in the grocery store using reusable bags, so it seems that the community is adjusting to the new program."
Approximately 14 million trees are cut and 12 million barrels of oil used annually to produce paper and plastic bags. Billions of bags end up as litter every year and are ingested by wildlife, introducing toxic chemicals into the food chain, according to the memo.