Salida City Council members discussed options for dealing with the trash problem created by plastic bags during the Tuesday, March 19, council work session.
Mayor P.T. Wood said the bags are causing “lots of trouble at the landfill” and that Angel of Shavano Recycling can no longer recycle them.
“Not only is the landfill filling up three times as fast as it was anticipated – the plastic bags are certainly a problem with that – but the wind blows the bags all over the place too,” said Councilwoman Cheryl Brown-Kovacik.
Brown-Kovacik said she and Councilman Justin Critelli are making an effort to engage businesses and community members to try to help resolve this issue. “Instead of just coming down with a heavy hand and saying we’re going to ban plastic bags or try and do something that way, we thought a better approach just might be to try and engage the community and businesses.”
Critelli said he had talked to store managers at Walmart and Safeway but that, given the corporate nature of those companies, it seemed unclear to anyone in management who could approve something like a reusable bag station with donated bags.
Councilman Mike Bowers asked about whether it would be economical to go back to using paper bags or, if people want plastic bags, to charge a deposit for them “like we used to do for pop bottles.”
Mayor Wood indicated that, as a statutory city, Salida would have to put any type of bag fee to a vote because it would be considered a tax, and given the cost of a special election, that wouldn’t be an option prior to 2019.
“We could do an outright ban,” he said, noting that four municipalities in Colorado have enacted bans so far, along with “a number of counties.”
“Hopefully, we can continue to talk and work with businesses to see what we can accomplish,” said Brown-Kovacik, who also mentioned city efforts to help educate the public on the local significance of the issue.