Plastic bag ban in Cortez unlikely

While numerous cities in Colorado and around the country are banning plastic grocery bags in their communities, the city of Cortez has yet to discuss whether it would want to look into it or not.

Because the state Legislature has not taken up this issue, Montezuma County would have no authority to ban plastic grocery bags.

The city of Durango recently banned plastic bags as did Aspen, Telluride and Carbondale.

Montezuma County Administrator Ashton Harrison said for the rule to go unto effect the city would have to be home ruled with its own charter, and Cortez is home ruled with its own charter.

Harrison said he has heard of a few places that require customers to bring their own bags to grocery stores when shopping.

The ban in Carbondale, Colo. was for stores in excess of 3,500 square feet, so a similar ban in Cortez would only affect Safeway, City Market and Walmart.

“Different communities can make their own choices,” Harrison said.

City Manager Shane Hale said he has no idea how the city council feels about such a ban because it has never come up.

He said if a group were to approach the council about a potential ban on plastic grocery bags, the council could always discuss the matter.

Mayor Dan Porter, said while he cannot speak for the entire city council, he did not rule out it being discussed at some point.

“If council wanted to take a look at it we would,” he said.

Speaking as just one council member, Porter said he does not see a ban of plastic grocery bags happening in Cortez.

“I think what you would have to say is what works best for everyone,” he said, and added the grocery stores would have to be included in any discussions because they would be the ones being impacted the most.

Still, Porter said he understands the concerns.

“I know plastic is a danger, but you have to look at both sides of the equation,” the mayor said, and added he does not think council would make such a sweeping change when there would be nothing to base it on.

Porter also said he tries to recycle all of his plastic products, but added the only place in the community he knows that will accept plastic to recycle is at Walmart.

According to the Internet, plastic bags are not biodegradable, clog waterways, spoil the landscape, and end up in landfills where they may take 1,000 years or more to break down into ever smaller particles that continue to pollute the soil and water.

michaelm@cortezjournal.com