Plastic Bags

Published 15:00 - 04/10/2020 Updated 11:54 - 04/20/2021

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On April 6th, 2021, Fort Collins voters approved the ballot measure.


Disposable Bag Ordinance States:

  • Ban on the distribution of single-use plastic bags and fee on paper bags, applicable to large retail grocers.
  • Ban plastic bags and charge a $0.12 fee on paper bags at large grocers
  • Split fee revenue 50:50 between the grocer and the City
  • Ban and fee to commence May 1, 2022
  • Provides $87,500 in funding to support the initial 2021 roll-out of the Disposable Bag Ordinance and the Waste Reduction Program, including outreach and engagement and making free reusable bags available to the community.
  • Requires monitoring and annual reporting to Council on equity impacts.


Learn more about single-use plastic, how businesses and neighbors are taking action, and tips you take to reduce the use of single-use plastic.

On April 6th, 2021, Fort Collins voters approved the ballot measure.


Disposable Bag Ordinance States:

  • Ban on the distribution of single-use plastic bags and fee on paper bags, applicable to large retail grocers.
  • Ban plastic bags and charge a $0.12 fee on paper bags at large grocers
  • Split fee revenue 50:50 between the grocer and the City
  • Ban and fee to commence May 1, 2022
  • Provides $87,500 in funding to support the initial 2021 roll-out of the Disposable Bag Ordinance and the Waste Reduction Program, including outreach and engagement and making free reusable bags available to the community.
  • Requires monitoring and annual reporting to Council on equity impacts.


Learn more about single-use plastic, how businesses and neighbors are taking action, and tips you take to reduce the use of single-use plastic.

  • ACT - Pick It Up FoCo Challenge

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    The Pick It Up FoCo Challenge is on!

    Spring into action and help clean up our city by joining a community-wide litter pick-up event. Stay virtually connected to the community, get outside, AND make a difference.


    While out enjoying the fresh spring air or walking your dog, consider picking up litter too. Find a spot to pick up litter right outside your front door. Trash can end up in bushes, fences, along alleyways, and in ditches.


    The most impactful place to start is in your neighborhood. Stop litter before it gets to the river! Use the Litterati App and enter code FOCO2021 to help track and collect data about single-use plastics to inform about the impacts of plastics on our environment.


    Visit the site - Pick It Up FoCo - for more details about signing up for the challenge.

  • ACT - May the Fork Be With You

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    Protect the Poudre, you must; the fork you must use!

    Join the community effort to protect our waterways from plastic pollution by using the fork - your reusable fork that is! And don’t forget about your reusable spoons, knives and straws, too.

    When ordering takeout or delivery, let restaurants and delivery services know you don’t need plastic utensils.

  • Plastics FAQs

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    SINGLE-USE PLASTICS

    What are single-use plastics, macro-plastics and microplastics?

    Single-use plastics: goods that are meant to be disposed of right after use, typically within minutes after using. Very commonly used for packaging and serviceware, such as bags, polystyrene (Styrofoam), to-go containers and accessory items like straws, utensils, and stirrers.

    Macro-plastics: plastic particles (or products) larger than 5mm, including but not limited to single-use plastic items such as grocery bags, cups, take-out containers, etc.

    Micro-plastics: small plastic particles that are less than 5 millimeters in size and can include both visible and microscopic particles and fibers. These plastics originate from a variety of sources, including car tires, road markings, litter, personal care products, synthetic textiles and clothing, among others.

    Resident Actions: How can I reduce the amount of single-use plastic I use?

    Even during the pandemic, there are many ways to take action in your home and reduce the amount of single-use plastic you use. Check out this list to explore tips to reduce single-use plastic in your home.

    Business Actions: How can my business reduce the amount of single-use plastic trash it generates?

    There are many ways local businesses can take action to reduce the amount of single-use plastics they generate, like asking customers to opt into plastic utensils and ordering supplies in bulk. Click here to learn more on where to start and to get ideas for how to take action


    COVID-19

    Is it ok to use my reusable bags, mugs and cups right now?

    Businesses are responding in various ways to reusables during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many grocery stores are allowing you to bag your own groceries or bag your groceries at your car with your own reusable bags. Some restaurants and coffee shops in town may have suspended their reusable cup/mug policies. Check with your local businesses to see how they are approaching reusables right now. Always make sure your reusable bags, mugs, and cups are clean and sanitized before using them.


    RECYCLING

    Why can’t I just recycle my single-use plastic items?

    Not all plastic can be recycled, and recycling guidelines often vary from city to city. These nonrecyclable plastics include the vast majority of single-use plastic items such as plastic straws, plastic utensils, plastic party cups and plastic take-out containers.

    The only plastic items that can be recycled locally in curbside recycling are plastic bottles, jugs and tubs. Bottles include soda or water bottles, and shampoo bottles. Jugs include plastic milk jugs and plastic laundry jugs. Tubs include the solid white dairy tubs like yogurt or sour cream containers, as well as translucent tubs commonly used in delis or in takeout for soups.

    Learn more about which plastics can be recycled locally

    Can’t plastic bags be recycled?

    Plastic grocery bags can be recycled, but NOT in your curbside recycling bin. They can be recycled at special drop-off locations locally, including at most grocery stores and the City’s Timberline Recycling Center.

    Plastic bags SHOULD NEVER be placed in curbside recycling or be used to bag recyclable items before placing them in your bin. Plastic bags and plastic film cause major issues at recycling sorting plants, tangling in recycling equipment and causing it to jam and break.

    Learn more here

  • Businesses Taking Action on Plastic

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    Many local businesses in Fort Collins are taking action to reduce their plastic waste. We have spoken with several to get an understanding of how each business uses different techniques that are easy, save money, and have an impact of local plastic pollution. Click the link above to view each business and how they incorporate plastic reducing measures in their everyday actions.


    WILD AND FREE FERMENTED TEA

    Wild and Free Fermented Tea is a local Fort Collins business owned by Rebecca Gassman, who started the company in 2017. Rebecca says: “It was through my own enlightenment of what this beverage provided that I felt the urge to share this offering. I have a small farm where I grow vegetables and medicinal flowers, herbs and more. It’s a lifestyle of health and wellness. I love learning the ways it challenges me to open up in new ways and seek greater understanding of my health and what brings me joy. I am motivated by nature and what it provides us here on Earth.”

    To curb their plastic waste, Wild and Free repurposes bottles from the juice used in their kombucha as packaging for selling tea at local farmer’s markets. They offer incentives for customers who bring these containers back to be sanitized and reused. They also avoid additional waste by skipping samples at the farmer’s market, which cuts down on disposable plastic cups and saves money for the business. Rebecca buys local produce so she can use her own containers and avoid plastic waste from the grocery store and larger suppliers. For other ingredients, she always orders in bulk and in compostable or recyclable packaging, like the cane sugar that comes in paper bags. These simple actions have made plastic free the norm at Wild and Free Fermented Tea.


    BEAN CYCLE ROASTERS

    Opened in 2004 by siblings Leslie, Penelope and Chas, Bean Cycle Roasters is centered on making high-quality coffee and connecting to the Fort Collins Community. They are committed to reducing plastic waste in their shop and maximizing reuse.

    Being a coffee shop, baristas go through a lot of milk per day. Milk is ordered through a delivery service that refills reusable milk jugs. Jugs are used, picked up, sanitized, and exchanged for filled containers, which cuts back on jugs that need to be taken to a recycling facility. Customers who are looking to buy roasted whole beans in bulk are given a discount for bringing their own reusable container. They also only provide straws on request and will fill reusable coffee cups for customers looking to take their beverage to go, which cuts back on non-recyclable utensils and to-go cups. The business focuses on incorporating reuse as much as possible into their operations, which makes them a wonderful example of a local business reducing plastic waste in Fort Collins.


    GOLD LEAF COLLECTIVE

    With a focus on fair trade, locally sourced, and vegan ingredients, the Collective operates three local eateries; Rustic Donut, the Gold Leaf Restaurant and the Silver Seed food truck. Owner Taylor Smith has a passion for reducing plastic pollution in all three businesses.

    The Collective incorporates plastic reduction tactics in each of their businesses by prioritizing ingredients from local farmers so they can avoid the plastic packaging from larger retailers. Many of their supplies come in recyclable packaging like cardboard, and they order in bulk to cut back on packaging waste. When in-person dining is open, the Collective always makes use of reusable plates, bowls, utensils and cups. After their new Gold Leaf location opens on Earth Day of April 2021, they plan to take additional action to reduce plastic waste, including introducing reusable to-go containers and using fabric napkins. These actions help the Gold Leaf Collective work towards becoming a plastic-free business.

  • Plastic Waste and Local Businesses

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    Plastic pollution is a problem that impacts individuals, businesses, organizations, and entire communities. The good news is there are many ways that the Fort Collins community can reduce plastic waste. Local businesses can take action in a variety of ways to tackle single-use plastics, like asking customers to opt in to plastic utensils and accessories.

    We have created several resources to use in your business to reduce plastic waste and help to assess where your business can take action. These tips are simple changes that can have a big impact on plastic pollution in Fort Collins, and they can save your business money!

    Check out this list of tips for simple ways that your business can start reducing plastic waste as you are ready to take action!

    Not sure where to start? Check out our Plastic Audit for Businesses, where you can assess how your business can start reducing plastic waste.

    Want to learn more about recycling in Fort Collins? Visit our Recycling A to Z List for guidance on how and where to recycle a variety of items and materials.

  • Plastic Waste at Home

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    Looking for ways to reduce the plastic waste in your home? Check out this list to explore how you can reduce the amount of single-use plastic items you use.

    Another important aspect of reducing your plastic waste is ensuring you know which plastics can and cannot be recycled. Learn which plastics can be recycled locally.