Dillon moves toward plastic bag ban
DILLON — Plastic bags are on their way out of Dillon — the big question is when.
Dillon Town Council members agreed to move away from the use of plastic bags at stores and restaurants in town during a work session Tuesday afternoon, hoping to provide more sustainable options for residents and visitors picking up groceries and goods. But there are still a lot of details to work out before any changes are implemented.
Both Breckenridge and Frisco have fees in place for single-use bags. But Dillon is planning on taking things a step further with an outright ban on plastic bags along with a fee on paper bags.
“I think it would be a good step forward, and I think it would be great if we were the first ones to do it in the county,” council member Kyle Hendricks said. “It’s the right thing to do. We might have to have a friendly conversation with City Market, but I think it would be great to ban them altogether and be done with it.”
Council agreed, but members raised concerns that implementing the prohibition could have negative effects on some businesses and community members.
Council member Jen Barchers noted that a sudden move to ban plastic and place a fee on paper bags could disproportionately affect lower-income residents and said town officials shouldn’t be pursuing changes until they’re prepared to help support those residents.
“Something that gets overlooked that we need to think about is equity and privilege,” Barchers said. “… We have to remember that we have lower-income people that buy a lot of groceries, and that could be a pretty big burden.”
The burden also could carry over to restaurants and stores that might have to carry some of the costs in transitioning to more expensive options for customers. And as many local businesses continue to fight their way back from losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, some council members are hesitant to add to that stress.
“I think we should wait a bit,” council member Steven Milroy said. “Anything that’s adding costs right now just seems like it’s going to hurt both restaurants and organizations that are struggling already, as well as residents when every dollar counts right now.”
Others felt that with uncertainty around when COVID-19 concerns would dissipate, pushing sustainability measures back could be detrimental.
“We have no idea when the end of COVID would be,” Hendricks said. “This is something that we should have addressed a long time ago, and we need to take care of it now. … Reusable bags have been coming and coming. To say that this is a new idea, or something that would be shocking to somebody, I don’t see as a good argument.”
The council didn’t reach a decision on a timeline or other details, like how much a paper bag fee could end up being. Instead, the town plans to reach out to City Market and other businesses to see if there are other free alternatives — like boxes — and to collect more data on how the changes could impact businesses and customers.
Town Council members did agree that whenever the new measures are put in place, the town should help supply reusable bags that could be distributed through the Family & Intercultural Resource Center and other organizations to help lower-income households as well as serve as a positive symbol for Dillon.
“If we put a bag fee on them, then we’ll just end up having to ban them (later),” council member Karen Kaminski said. “It’s just a step. … But I also think we ought to make available reusable bags for local people. Breckenridge handed out bags a year or two ago, and everybody carries them around and uses them. … I think it would be cool to have a Dillon bag that locals could have that was a symbol of localness.”
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