Town will consider ban on plastic bags, straws still ok

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The Town Council will discuss next week drafting an ordinance designed to reduce single-use plastic bag waste.

After kicking around the idea at a workshop back on May 21 where the council instructed staff to prepare a ban on plastic bag use, town leaders will take a closer look at that proposed ordinance at a workshop scheduled for Monday, August 20 at 3pm.

Staff is returning to the council a draft imposing a ban on single-use plastic bags and imposing a minimum fee for the provision of paper bags. Staff said it reached out to multiple stakeholder groups, including the Chamber of Commerce and local interested citizens.

The proposed ordinance language was modeled after other ordinances relating to the ban on single-use plastic bags from similar municipalities. Specifically it would impose a Waste Reduction Fee of ten cents for each disposable paper bag that is provided to a customer. The fee would be required to be itemized on the receipt provided by each retailer or retail store.

The fees collected by the retailers and remitted to the Town of Jackson would be transferred to the Integrated Solid Waste and Recycling (ISWR) division of Teton County to be used for:

  1. ISWR sponsored reusable bag distribution and retailer support
  2. Spring and Fall Community litter Clean-Ups
  3. Zero Waste Infrastructure and Programs

The proposed ordinance also carves out exceptions, most notably for newspaper delivery that includes a plastic bag wrap for protection from rain or snow.

Staff is recommending giving retailers time to plan and adjust for the ban, suggesting an effective date of July 1, 2019.

The initiative has received growing support over the years since it was first discussed.

Dawn Lotshaw emailed the council asking, “When will the ban be in effect for plastic bags? It’s disturbing to see customers leaving the grocery stores with shopping carts filled with plastic bags. Can’t that be put it place immediately?”

While receiving mostly support for the proposed ordinance, council has heard resistance including an email from Terry Chong stating: “I am disappointed that Jackson Town Council is considering adopting a plastic bag ban and fee. I applaud NY and MS States in BANNING plastic bag bans. Utah and South Carolina are in the process of adopting one.”

Chong went on to call plastic bag bans little more than “feel?good eco?fads” that cause more harm to the environment than good, and hurt businesses in the process.

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