Frisco Town Council approves plastic bag ban
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the timeline for the approval of the ban.
Frisco soon will join Breckenridge and Dillon in banning the use of plastic bags in restaurant and retail stores.
The Frisco Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday, Jan. 12, to approve the ban in its first reading. If approved in its second reading on Jan. 26, the ban will go into effect in September along with the Breckenridge ban. The Dillon ban on plastic bags and plastic foam products goes into effect in August.
In 2019, the Frisco council approved an ordinance that placed a 25-cent fee on disposable paper and plastic bags. The ban is an amendment to the ordinance that prohibits the use of “disposable bags,” which are defined as plastic bags or paper bags that contain less than 40% post-consumer recycled products.
The 25-cent fee will remain for paper bags that meet those guidelines. At the meeting, Environmental Programs Coordinator Gilly Plog said data shows the disposable bag fee hasn’t had a dramatic effect on use.
According to the data, the town collected $81,817 in the first three financial quarters of 2020. The plastic bag fee was suspended for the majority of Quarter 2 to help people during the pandemic.
Part of the reason for the continued use of bags could be that visitors are less likely to avoid the bag fee than people who live in Summit County and know the rules, council member Jessica Burley said.
“They don’t have as many opportunities to bring reusable bags, to plan ahead, to think through, to understand the rules before they get here,” she said. “Because of that, they’re willing to pay the fee for convenience sake. I think that having a ban in place, just from a systemic perspective, doesn’t allow that waste to be generated in the first place.“
However, some people are concerned about how the ban will affect businesses that already have taken a hit from the pandemic. Bob Starekow, who owns Silverheels Bar & Grill and Kemosabe Sushi in Frisco, submitted a public comment asking for the town to table the issue.
“The business community has enough explaining to do to customers these days, with extra costs of doing business, with costs of COVID, loss of business, costs of loans and simply trying to stay viable without another ordinance, however well intended,” Starekow said.
Mayor Hunter Mortensen said he hopes the pandemic won’t be affecting businesses by the time the ban goes into effect in September.
“We have a fair amount of lead time before this is being implemented,” he said. “I hope, by the time this comes around, the additional effects of what we’ve been living through will not be an issue.”
The council is also hoping the existing bag fee will help offset some of the additional costs associated with switching to paper bags. According to a council memo, businesses are able to retain up to $100 a month from the bag fees.
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