The town of Jackson plans to ban disposable plastic bags starting in April. The ban follows the lead of other resort communities like Aspen and Telluride that have enacted similar ordinances.
Some states like Idaho and Arizona have passed legislation that preemptively stops communities from banning plastic bags. Jackson Assistant Public Works Director Johnny Ziem said he has not heard Wyoming is considering such legislation, and hopes the state understands the economic benefits of the ban. Ziem said it's expensive for the city of Jackson to transport trash and recycling.
"It saves money for our residents, it saves money for our community, and it saves money in terms of the impact it makes on our environment," said Ziem.
The council started looking into a ban on plastic bags in 2012, but it wasn't until last spring that it began moving forward with the mandate. Ziem said that plastic bags have become a nuisance in Jackson and recycling is not feasible because the recycling market is overwhelmed.
"But we've seen here, in our community, plastic bags in Grand Teton National Park. We've seen plastic bags getting into our stormwater systems," Ziem said.
To replace the plastic bags, retailers would be able to provide paper bags for a fee. Initially, the council considered exempting small businesses from the ban but decided to apply the ban to all retailers. The ban passed in the first reading, but a second reading will take place December 3 to determine the details of the ordinance, like what constitutes a reusable bag, and who will receive the revenue from paper bags.