Ban on single-use plastics in Telluride to start in July

Via Telluride Daily Planet
By Ashley Bunton, Associate Editor

Straws

Plastic straws are included in the single-use plastics ban in Telluride that takes effect on July 1. The Town of Telluride hosted two public forums to give an overview of the transition. (Photo by Michael Mowery/Telluride Daily Planet)

Local restaurants are steps ahead with finding new solutions to replace plastic straws and other food service products, as the Town of Telluride’s ban on single-use plastics is set to go into effect on July 1.

Consumers are already familiar with the ban on plastic bags that Telluride put in place in 2011. A statewide plastic bag ban also went into effect on Jan. 1 with the Colorado General Assembly’s House Bill 21-1162 on the Management of Plastic Products. The town said the latest ban on single-use plastics aligns with its climate action plan and House Bill 21-1162.

Restaurants are just some of the many local businesses impacted by the change. Food vendors, catering businesses, festivals and lodging establishments are all also affected. Single-use plastics in the town’s ban include food containers, condiment packets, toothpick wrappers, cotton swabs and cutlery. The ban also encompasses plastic foam items made from polystyrene, commonly known as styrofoam.

Brittany Schelk, who works in Telluride at both Uno Dos Tres Tacos + Tequila and The Cornerhouse Grille, said that she did not think restaurants will be too impacted by the plastics ban. Reducing plastic products at the restaurants is already a best-business practice.

“The more we can do to help the environment, the better,” Schelk said.

“We switched to really nice agave straws” about a year ago at Uno Dos Tres, where Schelk is a manager, she added.

As demand for biodegradable agave products grows, millions of pounds of byproduct from the tequila industry are being diverted away from landfills.

The Daily Planet reached out to a handful of companies that are upcycling agave waste into straws, spoons and forks.

One supplier, Sustainable Agave Company, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, formed its business in 2020 on the premise of “from agave waste to agave-based.”

“We’re thrilled to see communities like Telluride taking proactive steps towards sustainability by banning conventional plastic straws,” James Beveridge, the company’s vice president of marketing, said. “Agave-based straws offer an eco-friendly alternative that aligns perfectly with this movement. As a supplier, we’ve noticed a significant increase in demand and interest from businesses and consumers alike.”

At Uno Dos Tres, Schelk said the restaurant has a couple of options on hand: “If we can’t get the agave straws, we use the paper ones.”

At The Cornerhouse Grille, paper straws are already in place, Schelk noted.


Telluride Private Catering has made the switch from plastics to eco-friendly and biodegradable products. Owner Luke Lawrence said his company provides bamboo forks and cutlery and uses sustainable napkins.

But straws are an exception for his company.

“We refuse to use them,” Lawrence said. “Paper and bamboo straws are so expensive … at least three times more. I’m happy with the plastics ban because I think it’s a good step forward, but it is expensive for business owners. The costs definitely get passed onto the customers, but we’ve been trying to avoid that.”

Employees at a few local businesses reached by the Daily Planet said they hadn’t yet heard about the forthcoming prohibition, but said they support transitioning away from single-use plastics. Some businesses did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

To help get the word out to local businesses and business owners, the Town of Telluride recently helped to host two forums on behalf of the Ecology Commission for the “Planet Over Plastics” initiative, but each forum last week drew only a few participants.

“It’s not really surprising that we’re not seeing anybody attend today,” Jonathan Greenspan, who serves on the Ecology Commission, said at the forum on Monday, March 25.

He added that outreach about the upcoming prohibition has been going well, and he has noticed businesses in Telluride are already making the transition away from single-use plastics.

After the ban takes effect, there will be “a soft grace period,” for businesses in Telluride to adapt to the change, Greenspan said.

There was also some discussion about ways to increase outreach to local businesses with more events later in the year.

Penalties for ignoring the single-use plastics ban will entail a written warning for a first offense and then fines tiered up to $50 for a second offense, up to $100 for a third offense and four or more violations garnering fines up to $300.

Certain businesses that handle pharmaceutical drugs and medical supplies are not included in the single-use plastics ban.

Conclusion

As Telluride gears up for the implementation of the single-use plastics ban, Mountain Rose Realty (MRR) stands alongside the community in support of this environmentally conscious initiative. We recognize the importance of sustainability in preserving the natural beauty of Telluride for generations to come.

While the transition may present challenges for local businesses, MRR remains committed to assisting our clients and partners in navigating these changes. Through education and collaboration, we aim to foster a culture of environmental responsibility within our community.

As we move forward, MRR encourages all stakeholders to embrace eco-friendly alternatives and innovative solutions. Together, we can build a more sustainable future for Telluride—one where our actions reflect our commitment to protecting the planet.

For more information on how you can join us in supporting Telluride's Planet Over Plastic initiative, visit here. Let's work together to make a positive impact on our environment and uphold the values that make Telluride a truly special place to call home.


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