Carbondale moves ahead with expanded plastic bag ban
Carbondale has advanced an amendment to ban plastic bags at the largest retail stores in town.
After a long discussion Tuesday, the Carbondale Board of Trustees voted unanimously to finalize an updated ordinance that would ban single-use plastic bags at five new stores. But the updated ordinance would exclude one store that was strongly opposed to the ban.
Currently, only grocery stores above 3,500 square feet (SF) are affected by the plastic bag ban, which at this time applies only to City Market. The town’s advisory Environmental Board recommended increasing the size limitation to 9,000 SF, and include retail stores in the ban.
Under the new rules, Sopris Liquor and Wine, the Roaring Fork Valley Co-op, Ace Hardware, Dollar Tree and PPG Paints would all be included in the proposed ban. Managers at each of those stores were in favor, or had been expecting and preparing for the eventual ban when the E-board approached them.
If the size minimum stayed at 3,500 SF, Basalt Bike and Ski (which supported the plastic bag ban) and Napa Auto Parts, which opposed it, would also be affected.
Trustee Marty Silverstein said that changing the size of the affected space may look like the board was making an exemption for a vocal opponent of the ban.
“We’re telling businesses, if you’re outspoken against something, we’re going to try to accommodate you,” Silverstein said.
Silverstein nevertheless seconded the motion to redraft the ordinance amendment and finalize it at the next trustees meeting.
Trustee Heather Henry said the E-board was not unanimous on raising the size to 9,000 SF, but did so prior to receiving any negative feedback.
At 3,500, “I think we start to creep into the realm of smaller businesses, where it will have a larger impact,” Henry said.
Many trustees supported raising the affected business size to 9,000 SF, because they said it created the most impact with the least pushback.
For Mayor Dan Richardson, it was a practical decision. The 9,000-SF limit is “the magic number that we think we can be successful at,” Richardson said.
“It’s enough of a change to expand this to retailers beyond one grocer,” Trustee Ben Bohmfalk said — especially “if there’s one retailer in particular who will be strongly, vocally opposed to this, and point out everything that is wrong with this, and maybe make it more difficult to expand beyond this.”
Expanding the ban is “sending the signal that we’re incrementally expanding this concept townwide,” Bohmfalk said, eventually perhaps to restaurants. “This is the first step.”
Bohmfalk pointed out that, if stores switched to biodegradable plastic, they are exempt from the bag ban and the other fees.
The ordinance as written includes a 20-cent fee for paper bags, which would apply to the stores that already provide mostly paper bags if the amended ordinance takes effect.
If finalized at the board’s next meeting in August, the ban would likely go into place Jan. 1, 2020.
The board also voted to make a proclamation supporting efforts to reduce single-use plastics and join advocacy group Recycle Colorado. It also agreed to look into hiring a consultant to develop a comprehensive plastic-reduction strategy.
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