Breckenridge Passes Disposable Bag Fee

Breckenridge Passes Disposable Bag Fee

Promote Reusable Bags
Breckenridge, CO July 25, 2013 (PBBR) - The Town of Breckenridge passed the Disposable Bag Fee on April 9th of this year. The ordinance takes effect on October 1, 2013.

Breckenridge Town HallMark Truckey, Assistant Director of Community Development for the town of Breckenridge, took time to meet with me in his office and explain details of the new ordinance.

According to Mark, the purpose of the ordinance is to promote the use of reusable bags and dissuade the use of disposable shopping bags. Cities that have implemented a fee on disposable bags have seen dramatic reductions in their use.

SustainableBreck Plan
The ordinance was derived as part of the town's sustainability plan, called SustainableBreck Plan. The SustainableBreck Plan was developed over the course of three years by the Community Development Dept. and adopted by the town in 2011.

The Disposable Bag Fee will help reduce the town's solid waste generation which is among the highest in the nation. According to the SustainableBreck Plan, Breckenridge's per capita solid waste generation is 2.48 times higher than the national per capita average.

Progress is being made, however. These numbers reflect a 69% decrease in per capita solid waste generation from the year 2000 to 2011 in Breckenridge. (1)

Downtown Breckenridge. Shops line both sides of the street.
Downtown Breckenridge. Shops line both sides of the street.

Disposable Bag Fee
The ordinance will place a ten-cents fee on both types of disposable bags, plastic or paper. All retailers must comply with the ordinance, not just food stores.

Of course, the fee can be avoided by a customer using a reusable bag. Actually, any type bag provided by the customer can be used. The law states that the Disposable Bag Fee does not apply to:

  1. a bag brought into a retail store by a customer and used to transport goods from the store
  2. a bag that was previously used and made available to customers at a retail store

There are other exemptions as well.

Breckenridge's Reusable Bag
The Town of Breckenridge has developed a reusable shopping bag that it will provide to merchants to be used in their stores. Mark showed me a new design of the bag that was awesome. It is beautiful and designed to be a "souvenir" of Breckenridge. Out-of-town visitors, 2 million per year according to Mark, will absolutely covet the Breckenridge Reusable Bag.

Mark says that the outreach program to make citizen's aware of the Disposable Bag Fee will include several thousand of the town's Reusable Shopping Bag.

Retailers' Response
While in Breckenridge, I talked with some of the merchants. Their response to the bag fee was mixed but overall positive. One retailer said, "Too much government". Another business owner said the only negative part of the bag was the fact that the reusable bag was only one size and was too big for small items.

However, the law allows for small items. The Disposable Bag fee doesn't apply to bags used for loose small retail items, including, but not limited to, jewelry, buttons, beads, ribbon, herbs and spices, etc. Breckenridge has several souvenir shops and the ordinance has taken into consideration the need to use small bags for some purchases.

Will the Disposable Bag Fee work? Absolutely! It's already proven in Washington, DC and several other cities.

Read the text of the bill.

References:
(1) SustainableBreck.com
(2) Reducing Disposable Bags, Town of Breckenridge website
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Town of BreckenridgeCover photo: Breckenridge Town Welcome Sign. Photo by Ted Duboise. Image and Design Copyright © 2013 Ted Duboise. All Rights Reserved.