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Aspen, Colorado Bans Plastic Bags

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The City of Aspen, Colorado, USA has banned plastic bags and placed a fee on paper bags.

After three years of studying and debating the issue of regulating plastic bags, Aspen’s City Council finally took action at its regular meeting Tuesday, October 11.

City Council members approved an ordinance regulating single-use bags by passing the measure with a 4-1 vote. The new law will ban plastic single-use bags and place a fee on paper single-use bags in the City of Aspen.

When the ordinance goes into effect May 1, 2012, only grocery stores will be affected. Grocers will be prohibited from distributing plastic bags to their customers. If a customer needs a bag for their purchases, a paper bag will be available at a charge of twenty cents.

The law is intended to enhance Aspen’s Waste Reduction Program. The ordinance will be revisited in one year for Council to consider the results and determine if further action should be taken.

Ashley Cantrell of the Environmental Health Dept. made the Staff presentation to the Council. She was assisted by Nathan Rutledge from CORE (Community Office for Resource Efficiency).

The fee on paper bags will be split between the grocers and the City. The grocers will be allowed to keep 25% of the fee or up to $1000 per month. The remainder will go into a fund administered by the City. According to Ms. Cantrell, “The fees from this ordinance may only be used to implement the new law and for the City’s Waste Reduction Program”.

“If just 20% of the people pay the fee, we will make just over the amount needed to fund the implementation of the new ordinance . . . which we’ve estimated to be $43,000″, stated Ms. Cantrell.

The City of Aspen has been coordinating efforts to regulate single-use bags with other cities in the region, known as Roaring Fork Valley. Coordinating with Basalt and Carbondale will ensure that citizen shoppers and visitors will receive the same experience at stores throughout the Valley.

Basalt passed an ordinance on Sept. 27th which mandates a fee on both paper and plastic bags but bans neither of the single-use bags. Carbondale is set for the 2nd reading of their ordinance on October 25th. City Council there has indicated they will consider changing their ordinance to follow Aspen’s decision.

Roaring Fork Valley leaders will ensure this beautiful region of Colorado will be plastic-bag free.
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