Dillon calls on other towns for cooperative approach to disposable bag bans and fees

People bring reusable bags to do their grocery shopping in Frisco on Jan. 2.
Photo by Liz Copan / Summit Daily archives

DILLON — Dillon Town Council members are resolute about taking plastic bags out of the picture in Dillon, but some officials are wondering if the conversation around bag bans and fees needs to be moved to the broader county perspective.

Dillon started having discussions surrounding plastic bags in May last year, after fifth graders at Dillon Valley Elementary petitioned the town for a plastic grocery bag fee for a school project. The idea stuck, and talks about an outright ban on plastic bags picked up again earlier this year.

The pandemic has slowed action, but council members picked up where they left off at a regular meeting Tuesday afternoon, affirming their desire to ban plastic and place fees on paper bags around town.

“I don’t think we should have plastic bags at all,” council member Kyle Hendricks said. If we have to have paper bags for some amount of time, fine. But other stores do just have cardboard boxes you can take with you if you didn’t bring your own bag. But we don’t need to do any kind of step down. We just need to knock it off and say, ‘No more of this.’”

Dillon isn’t the only town in the county trying to reduce bag usage. In August of last year, Frisco placed a 25-cent fee on all single-use bags. Breckenridge implemented a 10-cent disposable bag fee in 2013 and is starting to put plans in motion for its own plastic ban as soon as fall 2021.

But major questions remain about when exactly Dillon would implement its ban, what type of fee would be placed on paper products and what impacts the changes could have on community members.

Hendricks, who’s been an outspoken proponent of making a hard push toward reusable bags, said he’d like paper bag fees to be as high as $1 in an effort to wean community members off disposable products as quickly as possible.

But some weren’t on board with such a pricey proposition.

“I’m against the expensive part,” council member Jen Barchers said. “That is not OK with me. We need to still be sensitive to people who are on budgets. So I don’t think that’s the answer.”

Others raised concerns about how the secondary effects of policy changes could impact the town’s shops and restaurants, in particular bigger stores like City Market, and said they’d need more input on the potential pitfalls of shifting to primarily paper bags and whether retailers would be able to effectively provide free alternatives like recycled boxes.

Council members voiced that incentivizing stores through rebates on reusable and paper bag sales could be one solution to providing better options.

“Maybe we charge for paper and give some sort of rebate to the store if they offer the boxes,” council member Steven Milroy said. “I don’t know how they account for that, but something like that where there’s an incentive for the store to do the right thing, and that will encourage people to do the right thing.”

Perhaps most notably, the council raised questions about how a lack of consistency in bag rules in so many different areas of the county would play out with visitors. 

Rather than work out the details of their own plans in isolation, the council decided that the best move was to connect with the other towns in the county and work together to bring some cohesion to the different policies.

“Breckenridge is already thinking about this,” said Barchers. “My question is, at a mayors-managers meeting, could this be something that could be a countywide discussion? That way there would be a consistent message for tourists. If that’s the case, we should wait until all the towns are in rough agreement if that discussion is coming up.”

So while changes in bag policies are in the future for Dillon, the greater Summit County community might soon see a more cooperative approach to the issue.

“I think we do need to push people toward using reusable bags and making them available,” council member Karen Kaminski said. “… I think we need to start making strides to change the culture.” 

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.