Fort McMurray’s ban on plastic bags

Crested Butte, plastic bags, & Fort McMurray

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – As an oil-patch boom town, Fort McMurray probably doesn’t immediately come to mind as being at the forefront of environmental protection laws, including actions to prevent the proliferation of plastic bags.

But in 2010, elected officials in Wood Buffalo, as the municipality is more formally known, enacted a ban on plastic and paper bags. At the time, among ski towns of the West, only Telluride, Colo., had adopted a ban. But even Telluride, among the most liberal of ski towns, showed more restraint. Paper bags could be used, but there was a charge of 20 cents.

Since then, a torrent of ski towns, most in Colorado, have adopted bans or partial bans: Aspen, Breckenridge, Carbondale, Nederland, and Vail, but also including two California towns: Truckee and South Lake Tahoe.

In Crested Butte last week, elected officials instructed their staff attorney to begin working on a similar legislation after hearing entreaties from a high-school senior.

In 2014, a radio station in Saskatchewan asked officials in Fort McMurray how the ban had gone. Jarrod Peckford, supervisor of environmental and public services, said community residents responded positively when doing cleanup days. “We don’t see the plastic bags in the tree lines anymore,” he said.

The municipality also had an advanced recycling program.

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About Allen Best

Allen Best is a Colorado-based journalist. He publishes a subscription-based e-zine called Mountain Town News, portions of which are published on the website of the same name, and also writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines.
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