The Melt

Plastic bag full of mystery goo (nacho cheese?)

The Jackson Town Council directed staff during its workshop Monday afternoon to draft an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags as well as a nondiscrimination ordnance.

While the town enacted a nondiscrimination resolution in 2015, without the power to adjudicate a complaint, it was largely a public statement of the town’s values and expectations.

After several members of the public asked for more aggressive protections, the council decided to elevate the resolution to an ordinance with criminal consequences for those convicted of discrimination.

“Unfortunately, there is discrimination in our community,” Councilman Jim Stanford said. “But there’s no better way to head it off than to put everybody on notice and pass this ordinance.”

The plastic bag ban also saw widespread support.

“When we look back 50 years from now, we’ll ask ourselves, ‘What were we thinking?’” Mayor Pete Muldoon said. “This is a no-brainer, especially for our community, which is a leader in conservation.”

The details of the ordinance, including when the ban would go into effect and whether it would be issued townwide or only in specific venues like grocery stores that give out a disproportionate number of the 5 million plastic bags used in Teton County every year, still need to be worked out. But the council’s unanimous and emphatic support of the ordinance was a positive sign for nearly everyone in the council chambers Monday.

“In 2011 I supported this plastic bag ban when I was in your position, and here we are seven years later,” former councilor Greg Miles said. “It was time to get it done in 2011; it’s time to get it done now.”

With full support from the council, staff will bring back an ordinance with several options for implementation. Councilman Don Frank supported a phased approach to avoid any economic impacts on businesses, though others preferred that a townwide ban be enacted as soon as possible, provided businesses were given time to adjust their practices.

Staff members said they will come forward with an ordinance in the next few months with several options for implementation.

Councilman Jim Stanford noted that by using language crafted by other mountain towns like Vail, Crested Butte and Aspen in Colorado, an ordinance could be enacted quickly and without too much pressure on the town’s staff.

An in-depth look at Teton County’s use of plastic and how the ban could help can be found in Wednesday’s Jackson Hole News&Guide.

Contact John Spina at 732-5911, or @JHNGtown.

Cody Cottier covers town and state government. He grew up with a view of the Olympic Mountains, and after graduating Washington State University he traded it for a view of the Tetons. Odds are the mountains are where you’ll find him when not on deadline.

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(8) comments

Terry Milan

Really dumb. Most grocery bags are full of plastic bags. Consider bread, potato chips, meat and vegetable wraps. This is proof of what I long suspected, these recycle bins are just another pay load the landfill and waste taxpayer dollars.

John Sinson

More California thinkin for ya. These guys are going to adopt every leftist law available and turn us in to San Francisco... unless you vote.?

Marty Brammer

We could have daycare kids decorate pillowcases to give to the tourists. Wonder what Aspen, Vail, or Crested Butte do? Hmmmmm

Bob Kochman

What will tourists do when they shop and are not aware of the ban or don't bring bags with them? Hopefully there will be a low-cost option at the check-out. BTW, Jackson can't be considered a leader in recycling until it's available curbside like nearly ever other city in the country.

Frank Smith

A couple of years ago I was visiting friends in California, and I was buying them some groceries. I forgot my reusable bags. i was actually delighted to find that the grocery stores charge for plastic bags, and for paper bags as well. I'm tired of seeing thousands of plastic bags hanging from the barbed wire alongside highways used by trash trucks!!

Marty Brammer

When plastic bags are outlawed only outlaws will have plastic bags! Teton County should invest in plastic bag sniffing dogs.

Ken Chison

Law enforcement leave because it's too expensive to live in Jackson Hole. Full-time workers can't find places to live because it's too expensive in Jackson Hole. And all the council worries about is plastic bags and straws? You can sure tell that the California influx has affected Teton County horribly. Look at California and New York government people, they are in an absolute crisis. Don't let West Coast and East Coast thinking dictate you. Use common sense. There are a lot bigger fish to fry currently.

Gregory Miles

Ken, Think about your comment the next time you eat some fish fried or not, or put some sea salt on your steak. Let’s factor that in with the reality that we discard close to 5 million plastic bags annually in Teton County alone. This is not only a local issue its a global issue. This is a big fish....

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