Fraser considers plastic bag tax
In a push to promote sustainable practices, the town of Fraser is partnering with Safeway to implement a tax on plastic bags.
While the town and grocery store are still figuring out the details, Jeff Durbin, Fraser town manager, said reducing the use of single-use plastic bags is a priority for the town.
“We did a waste diversion study and, as part of our overall sustainability initiatives, this fits into that big picture,” Durbin said.
According to the 2016 county waste diversion study, over two million plastic bags are used at the Safeway in Fraser and the City Market in Granby. The town would partner with Safeway to offer a reusable bag option.
Although no decisions have been made on how much the tax would be, the town had previously considered something near the 10-cent per bag range. Durbin said the town decided on a tax instead of an outright ban because the money raised can be used for further sustainable initiatives.
“With the tax revenues we can do programs like informational programs about what you can and can’t do with (waste),” he said. “We’re hoping we can do other programs up at the Drop, things like Christmas tree disposal. Maybe we could do an electronic drop-off day.”
The 2016 waste study estimated that a 10-cent bag fee would generate a profit of $9,000 to $13,000 per year for the town and the grocers involved.
Durbin said he has heard mostly positive feedback in response to the proposed initiative. Towns across Colorado have implemented similar programs, including Aspen, Boulder, Breckenridge, Carbondale, Telluride and Vail.
“This isn’t new,” Durbin said. “Other communities have done it and it has worked well in other communities and it has worked not so well in different communities, so we are trying to understand what has worked well and what hasn’t.”
Earlier this year, Mountain Food Market in Grand Lake stopped offering plastic bags for customers, instead they offer paper or reusable bags, as well as boxes.
Brenda Schoenherr, co-owner of the market, decided not to carry plastic bags anymore because she feels it’s important to do what she can to help the planet. She said since there isn’t a comprehensive recycling program in Grand Lake, she thought reducing the use of plastic bags would be a way to positively impact the environment.
“As the headline for National Geographic said, it’s planet or plastic,” Schoenherr said. “We have to something.”
Schoenherr said that the store has faced little resistance and feels it has been successful. Since the store provides alternatives for the plastic bags, Schoenherr doesn’t feel their removal has impacted the customers she serves negatively.
“It’s just a mindset,” she said. “So I’m just doing my little part and doing whatever I can.”
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