The city of Aspen’s ban on plastic bags at the grocery store takes effect Tuesday.
Beginning the same day, Aspen grocery stores will have to impose a 20-cent fee on paper bags. The same law will also take effect Tuesday in Carbondale. The law aims to cut down on waste associated with single-use plastic bags, while encouraging shoppers to bring their own reusable bags to tote groceries home.
Aspen City Council passed the law in September, followed closely by the governments in Basalt and Carbondale. In the latter two towns, citizens challenged the law, putting it up to an April 3 vote. The bag ban was upheld in Carbondale but struck down in Basalt.
The city of Aspen has been giving out free reusable bags from the environmental health department. A new program organized by Colorado Mountain College and Garfield County is also producing bags at a facility in Rifle using reclaimed materials. There will also be bag giveaways this week outside of Aspen’s two grocery stores.
Plastic bags were removed from Aspen City Market checkouts last week. The store is selling two varieties of reusable bags in the self-checkout area: one for 79 cents, and a fancier, insulated version for $5. There were still plastic bags at Clark’s Market on Sunday.
The city has been talking with local hotels, trying to help with the transition, which may catch some guests off guard. Officials have also started a “bag ambassador” program that aims to get the message out to locals via enthusiastic supporters of the ban. Many days’ worth of advertisements have also been running in local papers informing people about the ban.
Kelli McGannon, spokeswoman for City Market, said it will be interesting to see how shoppers respond to the change. The store has been training its clerks in preparation for the ban, and has posted signs at all registers telling customers that beginning May 1, it will no longer be able to offer plastic bags at checkout.
She added that the company does not publicly share information related to how many bags it goes through, as that can be correlated to sales and is thus proprietary.
Collections data on the 20-cent fee on paper bags that the city will charge will be public, however, so extrapolating how many paper bags are used with the policy in place will not be difficult.