Plastic bags ban in Denver? Officials considering fees and more
A policy director with Ortega's office told Westword last week that the councilwoman has done some early research on a possible fee that would discourage people from using bags. The fee would also generate revenue -- which she had discussed awhile back with the mayor's office. She's looked into an outright ban, but there is often strong opposition to that from retail groups.
Officially, the mayor is vaguely interested in a decidedly uncommitted way. Hancock spokeswoman Amber Miller sent us this statement:
The Mayor acknowledges that plastic bag restrictions and fees are a sustainability practice that a number of cities across the nation have adopted, including a handful here in Colorado. Mayor Hancock will always move forward with solutions that are right for Denver and the City is not actively pursuing these fees at this time.
Westword asked Shepherd about plastic bags after a press conference on the city budget last week, and she displayed considerably more enthusiasm.
"I'm interested, because we don't need all this stuff landing in our waste stream and in our rivers and in our water shed," she said. "There are plenty of other opportunities.... Some of the things that we are talking about is a small fee on bags. That would be ideal."
An outright ban would face a lot of opposition from the plastic bag and grocery lobby, she said, noting that there was opposition when a possible ban was proposed in the council a few years ago.
Denver City Councilwoman Susan Shepherd
"There are different people in council now that might be more open to this," she said. "But it will be complicated, so it's going to take awhile to work it out."
Echoing the concern Hancock raised, she added, "We are going to have to be really sensitive.... We don't want large, low-income families to be disproportionately affected when they go to the grocery store."
Shepherd said that in the fall, she toured the local landfill in Arapahoe County and officials there said the plastic bags gum up their systems at the recycling facilities.
Despite the obvious environmental benefit, she said, "There will be very strong and organized opposition, which sometimes overwhelms grassroots communities. But it's obviously the right thing to do."
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