Frisco passes 25 cent, single-use bag fee starting Jan. 1 |

Frisco passes 25 cent, single-use bag fee starting Jan. 1

Plastic bag in hand, a customer leaves a store in Frisco, Colo. on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019.
Plastic bag in hand, a customer leaves a store in Frisco on Aug. 14, 2019.
Photo by Liz Copan / Summit Daily archives

FRISCO — Frisco is the latest Colorado town to adopt a fee on disposable bags.

The Frisco Town Council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance on second reading at its regular meeting earlier this week, establishing a 25 cent fee on all single-use disposable bags handed out by grocery stores and retail establishments in town.

The move comes as part of the town’s 2019-20 strategic plan, which outlines a number of sustainability goals for the town, including considerations for a bag fee to help reduce the amount of waste being produced. During the public hearing on the ordinance, community members largely took the opportunity to voice their support for the change.

“I applaud you for making this move,” resident Kate Hudnut said. “To implement a bag (fee) that hurts a little bit will make people remember to bring their bags that are sitting in their garage or go back to their vehicles to get their bags and bring them in the store. … Educating our visitors to bring their own, or to purchase them at the checkout and bring them next time, is a move in the right direction.”

Once enacted, all disposable bags, both plastic and paper, will cost customers an extra 25 cents at retailers around town. Retailers will be allowed to keep 50% of each bag fee collected up to $1,000 a month through August 2020 and $100 a month afterward. Bags used inside stores — such as produce bags at grocery stores — are exempt from the fee.

It will be left to retail stores to record the number of disposable bags provided, along with collecting and remitting the fees to the town. The ordinance also prohibits retail establishments from refunding or offering any discounts to customers because of the fee.

Because the additional charge is a fee, and not a voter-approved tax increase, the town will be required to use the additional money to fund efforts to mitigate the effects of disposable bags — including providing reusable bags to residents and visitors, educational efforts and paying for community cleanup events, among other initiatives.

While the majority of comments heard during the public hearing were positive, there also were dissenters.

“I really don’t feel that this action is necessary at this time,” Frisco resident Joe Lamb said. “You may have a solution looking for a problem. … You’re creating an inconvenience to residents and visitors.”

Local businesses around Frisco also appear to be somewhat split on whether a bag fee is the right move, with some expecting minimal impacts on their businesses and customers and others concerned it could become an impediment.

Laura Slaughter, floor manager at the Frisco Whole Foods Market, said she was in favor of the fee and didn’t feel it would make any difference on business. She noted that out-of-town visitors often ask about bag fees and that it might actually be the residents who struggle to adapt at first.

“If anything, most of our out-of-town customers coming from places like California already have bag charges there,” Slaughter said. “Those are the ones who are more amenable to the charges, and they’ll ask about fees when they come in. It’s the locals who may have an issue with it. But if everyone is charging 25 cents, hopefully the locals will figure it out and see it’s a good thing.”

The tone was somewhat different at Frisco Liquors, where owner John Davis said he’s conflicted about the change and is worried about the impact it might have on his customers’ experience and the practicality of counting every bag sold in front of a line of waiting customers.

“We’re a strong tourist-based economy, and I don’t see tourists bringing bags,” Davis said. “I know people ask for bags at the store because they don’t feel comfortable walking around with a liquor bottle. Others like separate bags so their bottles of wine don’t clang against each other. If they bought six bottles of wine in a big bag, you might have to charge them $2 or $3 extra. … I have mixed emotions on it. It’s one more step I have to take when people are waiting in line.”

Regardless of how retailers feel about the new fee, it is coming. The ordinance is set to go into effect Jan. 1.

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