Durango City Council Approves Controversial Bag Ban
by Samantha Wright
Aug 17, 2013 | 1753 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print

DURANGO – Shoppers in Durango may soon have to pay a fee for the privilege of using disposable bags when they shop at the city’s largest stores. 

The Durango City Council voted 4-1 last week to impose a 10-cent fee on disposable bags in the city’s largest stores (including Walmart, two City Markets and an Albertson’s), starting sometime next year.

The issue has divided the Durango community, with bag fee proponents – inspired by the groundbreaking 2010 film Bag It – arguing disposable bags are “an incorrigible environmental nuisance, and opponents insisting they are an important approximation of broader political freedoms,” according to the Durango Herald.

Bag-fee opponents may petition to repeal the disposable-bag fee or force a referendum on the issue, the Herald said.

In October 2010, the Town of Telluride banned the distribution of plastic bags, on the heels of Bag It, produced by the small Telluride-based film production company, Reel Thing, which mounted an effective and inspiring argument against the use of single-use plastics.

Telluride’s law, which went into effect March 1, 2011, prohibits grocers and other retailers within town limits from distributing most types of disposable plastic bags to customers. 

The law also requires local grocery stores to collect a 10-cent per bag Advance Recovery Fee on the paper bags they give out. Per the ordinance, those bags must contain at least 40 percent recycled content with no old-growth fiber, and be 100 percent recyclable.

A more recent local effort to ban single-use plastic bags – or to impose a fee on them – in Montrose appears to have fizzled. But a growing number of towns and cities worldwide have taken action to kick the single-use bag habit. (Click on the “Track the Movement” tab at ChicoBag’s website.) 

“People realize, ‘I can’t figure out the world’s oil and gas problems, but I can start with this. I can take my own bag to the store,’” Bag It producer Michelle Hill said in an interview last year with The Watch. “We feel in our office that a sense of personal empowerment starts with small steps.” 

swright@watchnewspapers.com or Tweet @iamsamwright

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