Plastic bags ban in Denver? Officials considering fees and more
They clog up waterways. They end up in landfills, where they take thousands of years to break down. And they kill turtles and dolphins. Plastic bags of the sort used in grocery stores are a top enemy for environmentalists, and Westword has learned that some Denver officials are considering policies that would discourage folks from using them -- possibly even a ban.
Now all you plastic bag-hating, dolphin-loving folks out there, don't get too excited. From what we can tell, the city is in the very early stages of researching this -- and a possible fee tied to plastic bags at this point seems much more likely than an outright ban, although nothing is certain at this stage.
We first got wind of this possibility last week, when Denver Mayor Michael Hancock spoke at a Colorado Municipal League conference in Breckenridge. While there, he spent a good chunk of time praising the early impacts of his controversial camping ban. But the conversation during the luncheon took a turn when Sweetie Marbury, a member of the Durango City Council, stood up and asked Hancock when Denver was going to get on the right side of the plastic bag issue and ban them.
"Colorado, when I was a kid, was always the leader in being green and in the environment," Marbury said. "When I look across the United States, there are very few towns in Colorado that have taken up this issue [of plastic bags].... There's a handful of towns in Colorado," including Carbondale and Aspen, "but...there are thirty towns in Alaska. There's more than that in California. Olympia, Washington and Austin, Texas have banned plastic bags."
Photo by Sam Levin CML Executive Director Sam Mamet and Mayor Michael Hancock.
She continued, volume increasing: "We see it floating across the river, chasing us down the street and attached to lots of fence posts.... I'm going to encourage people here to go back home and take up this issue.... It's something that's very passionate in my heart. I'd like to ask Denver's mayor, when is Denver going to talk about the issue?"
"Yeah, when are you going to ban plastic bags?" chimed in Sam Mamet, CML's executive director, hosting the Q&A with Hancock.
"Today!" the mayor said, joking.
More seriously, Hancock said he was interested in the issue and has discussed it with some members of Denver's city council.
"You raise a very important question," Hancock said, speaking in front of municipal leaders from across the state. "I've had a conversation with a member of the Denver City Council who wants...an ordinance to ban plastic bags.... One of the things he and I talked about is, of course, the alternative, so that it's not a regressive effort where people who are barely able to walk to the grocery store to eat have to now figure out how they pay for their bags as well. How do we do that? So he is considering it, looking at other towns, best practices.
"I just want to make sure we address those concerns," Hancock added.
Page down to read more about possible actions against plastic bags in Denver.