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County to encourage reusable bags

Would team with Recycle Utah
Aaron Osowski, The Park Record
Posted: 08/16/2013 05:01:06 PM MDT
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An employee of The Market at Park City bags groceries in a plastic bag. Summit County is…
Summit County has begun conversations to develop a resolution to encourage the use of reusable grocery bags and reduce the use of single-use plastic bags. The resolution would be mirrored after the one passed on July 25 by Park City.
Jaren Scott, Solid Waste Superintendent for Summit County, supports the resolution because, he says, single-use plastic bags are quite a problem, especially for the county’s landfills.
“It’s our number one eyesore. They get airborne quickly and we’re constantly picking them up,” Scott said. “These plastic bags are the lightest things in the trash, so they are the ones that cause the most nuisance.”
Scott says blown litter is a huge problem at landfills but he hopes that, with the education efforts this resolution would initiate, plastic bag use will decrease, thus prolonging the life of landfills and “making the county look better.”
The county would partner with Recycle Utah, with the primary effort being education encouraging people not to use plastic bags and instead to use reusable bags. They will be educating students in schools about reusable bags as well as what can and cannot be recycled.
Emily Stein, Outreach Coordinator for Recycle Utah, says they have narrowed down the types of reusable bags the county would create and distribute to the style and fabric and have partnered with an artist in creating the bag’s design.
The county would collect data throughout the course of the reusable bag program, reassessing both the reduction of plastic bags and the use of reusable bags on April 22, 2015.
“We will monitor the numbers of bags hopefully grocers will cooperate with the numbers on single bag use to compare any reductions,” Stein said. “We would like to 100 percent reduction in the use of single-use bags.”
If the county’s resolution is modeled on Park City’s, it would allow retailers to provide a variety of means to encourage reusable bag use, such as charging for plastic bags, discounting customers for using reusable bags and donating on behalf of customers for reusable bag use.
Scott says that roughly five percent of Summit County residents use reusable bags, with the numbers in Park City being a little higher around seven to 10 percent. Park City grocery stores currently give a five-cent rebate for customers who bring in a reusable bag.
Some of the partners in this effort in addition to Recycle Utah include the Utah Transit Authority, the Park City Chamber of Commerce, Park City Municipal Corporation, Park City Lodging and Park City Transportation.
For Park City’s resolution, the effort garnered $6,000 to design a bag; Stein said she would like the county’s support so they can include the county logo on the bag. She added that an advertising campaign will be started, to appear in hotel rooms, buses, taxis, supermarkets and more. Scott says they will look to private partners to donate materials for the bags.
“We’re hoping to unveil the bag before the ski season starts. We want to get it out there by the Harvest Fest,” Stein said.
Both Stein and Scott stressed that this potential resolution would not be a ban on single-use plastic bags.
“This is totally voluntary. It’s strictly encouraging the use of reusable bags and discouraging the use of plastic bags,” Stein said.