Several weeks ago, emails began showing up in my inbox about the annual Sustainable Denver Summit, which happens tomorrow at the Colorado Convention Center.
I would think that the recent creation of an Office of Sustainability will be celebrated at this event. And as of yesterday, there is movement to charge shoppers in Denver a dime for each single-use plastic bag or paper bag. The ordinance still has a way to go, but face it: It’s time.
My sense is that unless you are living under a rock, the overwhelming presence of plastic in our lives is becoming problematic. Yes, plastic is lighter to transport. Yes, it doesn’t break like glass. But we’ve seen enough videos showing a whirlpool or such of discarded plastic in various places around the world. Also, when a plastic bag is hanging from a tree, it’s just very strange. Paper bags have their own issues, in terms of relying on trees and the amount of water it takes to make a paper bag. (Last summer, the Kroger grocery chain announced it would phase out the single-use plastic bags sometime in 2025. That seemed sort of slow, but it was going to cover a lot of territory.)
Yesterday, the Denver City Council’s Finance and Governance Committee moved forward the concept of requiring stores charging $0.10 per single-use bag; 6 cents of that would go to the city, and the other 4 cents to the retailers. There are numerous exemptions. The city tried something like this before several years ago, but the mayor didn’t buy it. But now, he does. This measure will have a public hearing later this month, and I would think it will be supported by the entire Denver City Council.
There also is another wrinkle. This is from Colorado Politics:
“(City Council Representative Kendra) Black said she’s been assured by Colorado lawmakers that her proposed ordinance will have backing in the upcoming legislative session. In 2020, state policymakers plan to repeal a 1993 state statute, she said, which served as the basis of a 2012 lawsuit by the Colorado Union of Taxpayers against the City of Aspen over a 20-cent paper bag fee.” (District 4 representative Kendra Black worked with other City Council members to get this moving.)
As of now, the state statute says: “No unit of local government shall require or prohibit the use or sale of specific types of plastic materials or products or restrict or mandate containers, packaging, or labeling for any consumer products.”
I would imagine that there will be blow-back for various reasons when plastic and paper bags cost a dime. And it’s important to clean cloth or reusable bags or they can get crummy. But they do like to take an occasional soapy shower.