Friday, July 10, 2020

Educating local businesses on the upcoming plastic bag ban

Changing behavior is the goal

By Mark Reaman

The great Crested Butte plastic bag ban will be implemented after the summer season and the town wants to work with the Sustainable Crested Butte group and local retailers to ensure a smooth transition. The ordinance that was passed in 2016 goes into effect this September.

The ordinance prohibits the use of disposable plastic bags made from non-compostable plastic or compostable plastic given to customers from local businesses. Paper bags that are made out of at least 40 percent recycled materials and that are 100 percent recyclable may be used by retailers. There are some exceptions to the ban for items such as books, art work, some food items and flowers.

Crested Butte residential/ vacation rental inspector and now plastic bag czar Eric Treadwell went over the ordinance with the council at the May 4 meeting. He emphasized that the idea behind the ordinance was to change behavior to stop using plastic bags and not to focus on punishing businesses. In that regard he said the town would be enlisting Sustainable Crested Butte to help contact businesses about how to comply with the new rules. An extensive education campaign will begin later this spring and run into the fall. Citations would not be issued until the end of the year.

“Having Sustainable Crested Butte helping is huge,” Treadwell said. “They are already working on their Boomerang Bag program to get reusable bags available at different locations in town.”

“The intent is to get our business owners to buy in to this program and that is why we want a significant education piece as part of the transition plan,” added Crested Butte community development director Michael Yerman.

Councilman Chris Haver suggested perhaps reusable bags could be branded with a Crested Butte logo that tourists would want to use and then take home.

“We have thought about asking the Creative District to do a design and then perhaps get Sustainable Crested Butte to get involved and distribute them,” said Yerman.

Erika Vohman of Sustainable Crested Butte said, however, that in her conversations with business owners, it seemed most would prefer to have their own business logo on such reusable bags that they hand out.

Overall, the council was in favor of the current plan to roll out the plastic bag ban with an education campaign and utilize the services of Sustainable Crested Butte for education and outreach.

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