Park City becomes 1st Utah city to ban plastic bags

FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2016, file photo, women walk with plastic bags through Chinatown in San Francisco. California voters have narrowly approved a statewide ban on single-use plastic carryout bags. Proposition 67 was placed on the November 8, 2016, ballot by plastic bag industry supporters to try to overturn a ban approved by the state legislature two years ago. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — The mountain ski town of Park City recently became the first Utah city to ban plastic bags.

The Deseret News reports that the Park City council voted unanimously last week to enact the ban.

Starting in June, the three large grocery stores in town won’t be able to have the razor-thin plastic bags commonly used, which supporters said will help cut down on trash in the community and reduce jams on recycling equipment.

Park City now joins 230 municipalities across the country, including Honolulu, San Francisco and Seattle, that have bans on plastic bags.

The stores subjected to the ban said they’ll comply but feel unfairly targeted because the new rule only affects grocery stores over 12,000 square feet within Park City’s jurisdiction, including The Market at Park City, Rite Aid and Fresh Market.

The Market’s grocery manager, Rush Hotchkiss, said the ban will mean increased costs for doing business, as paper bags cost 10 cents each compared with a half-cent per plastic bag. Competitors including Smith’s and Wal-Mart won’t be affected even though they’re just minutes away, because the chain stores are actually located at Kimball Junction, which is in Summit County’s jurisdiction.

“Hopefully this doesn’t discourage our customers from shopping here,” Hotchkiss said.

Rite Aid’s assistant manager Henry Paras also said he’s disappointed that his store is among those singled out. “I guess we’ll just need to deal with it,” Paras said.

Park City officials said they’ve been mulling a plastic bag ban since 2008, even considering a city-wide ban before settling on this one specifically for grocery stores.

A larger ban would have actually been easier to swallow, Hotchkiss said.

“We would have preferred it to be for all the stores, but we’re OK with it,” Hotchkiss said. “We’re more than willing to work with the community on what they want to do. So we’ll just follow along with it and see how it goes.”

Meanwhile, local shoppers and environmentalists said they’re happy for the change.

Eileen Kitner of Park City said she’s been using reusable bags for several years and that the ban was the right thing to do for the community.

“Park City should be a leader in how we deal with our environment,” Kitner said. “Our environment is our economy.”

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