What is the Disposable Bag Ordinance?

    The Fort Collins Disposable Bag Ordinance bans plastic bags and puts a 10-cent fee on paper bags at large Fort Collins grocery stores.

    What impact will the State of Colorado’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Act (HB21-1162) have in Fort Collins?

    Colorado’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Act (HB21-1162) was passed in July of 2021 and addresses plastic bags and Styrofoam food containers. The State's law has a multi-phased implementation through 2023-2024. Since January 1, 2023, large retail stores charge 10 cents per plastic and paper carryout bags. Then on January 1, 2024, plastic bags are banned at large retail stores. Large retailers can use any plastic bags in inventory purchased prior to January 1, 2024, until June 1, 2024. 

    Styrofoam food containers will be banned at restaurants, fast-food chains, grocery stores, and convenience stores starting on January 1, 2024, but they can use any existing inventory bought before January 1, 2024, until the inventory is depleted.

    The 10-cent fee on paper bags will continue at large retail and food stores per the local ordinance.

    Who does not have to pay bag fees?

    At Fort Collins grocery stores impacted by the local ordinance

    Those participating in income-qualified assistance programs at the local, state, and federal levels do not have to pay the 10-cent fee for paper bags. Examples include Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) (including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Women, Infants and Children (WIC); Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF); and Colorado Cash Assistance Programs), Get:FoCo, and Health First (Medicaid) cardholders.

    At other large retailers in Fort Collins impacted by the state law

    Those participating in state and federal food programs do not have to pay bag fees. Examples include Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) (including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Women, Infants and Children (WIC). 

    Shoppers must show proof of assistance to be exempt from bag fees.

    The City of Fort Collins has distributed free reusable bags to the community, first prioritizing low- and moderate-income families. Reusable bags can also be found on online groups that share items for free or can be purchased at a low cost from local thrift stores.  

    If you would like additional assistance locating reusable bags or have other ideas for what would help you adjust to the plastic pollution laws, contact us at recycling@fcgov.com. 

    How is the money from collected bag fees used?

    The local ordinance and the state law split revenue collected from bag fees 40-60 between large retailers/grocers and the City of Fort Collins. Retailers can use the funding for staff training, recovering costs from purchasing paper bags, and promotional items or signage for their stores. The rest will go to the City of Fort Collins for administration and compliance costs and support plastic pollution and waste reduction programs and increase efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle.

    Why does the local ordinance only apply to large grocery stores?

    Large grocery stores distribute a lot of plastic bags meaning that the Disposable Bag Ordinance covers a lot of ground through one intervention. In addition, many large grocers had experience with similar laws banning plastic bags in other locations across the country making a local implementation of a bag ban easier for grocers.

    Impacted stores include the following: 

    • 5 King Sooper locations
    • 4 Safeway locations
    • 3 Target locations
    • 2 Sprouts locations
    • 2 Walmart locations
    • Whole Foods
    • Trader Joe's
    • Lucky's Market

    What will I do to replace the plastic bags I use for (i.e., cat litter, dog bags, small trash cans, etc.)?

    While the reuse of plastic bags has been a great way to extend the life of what otherwise would be a single-use bag, the switch to reusable, compostable, or recyclable materials in our daily lives is essential. Examples of switching from plastic bags include using paper bags instead of plastic, using pet food bags or other unavoidable bags or packaging for waste disposal, or purchasing bags made from renewable resources, recycled content, or compostable.

    How will the paper bag fee impact pick-up and delivery services at large retailers and grocery stores?

    You will be charged the 10-cent bag fee when placing pick-up and delivery orders at grocery stores. While Council passed the local ordinance, grocery stores and third-party shopping systems will manage the fee process. If you’re concerned that bag fees will be inadvertently passed on to third-party shoppers, we recommend you connect directly with the third-party shopping organization(s) in question.

    Pick-up and delivery services at large retailers for the state law will be the same as the local ordinance. Bag fees do not apply to those participating in state and federal food programs. 

    What will self-check look like?

    At self-checkout, you will be asked to input how many paper bags you used for your order, and the fee for all bags used will show on your receipt.

    Where can I get reusable bags?

    New and used reusable bags are available at grocery stores, retail stores, thrift stores and on online shopping platforms and groups. Most households need between 5-10 reusable bags.

    For information on the availability of free reusable bags from the City, email recycling@fcgov.com.

    How should I care for my reusable bags?

    Reusable bags require regular cleaning, just like any other item that comes into contact with food. Like a dirty fork or dish towel, wash your reusable bags or wipe them down after use. 

    What if I forgot my reusable bags but am already in the checkout line?

    To remember reusable bags, we suggest keeping some in a purse or backpack or storing them in your mode of transportation (i.e., car, bike trailer, backpack on the bus, etc.). For example, if you left your reusable bags in the car, most stores would let you pack your purchases back into the cart without bags, and you can transfer them to your car or bike trailer.

    What bags are not included in the bag fees?

    • bags to store loose or bulk items, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, or greeting cards; nails, bolts, screws, or other small hardware items; live insects, fish, crustaceans, mollusks, or other small species; and bulk seed, bulk livestock feed, or bulk pet feed;
    • contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, seafood, fish, flowers, potted plants, or other items that, if they were to come in contact with other items, could dampen or contaminate the other items; or
    • contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods. 
    • bags used to protect a purchased item from damaging or contaminating other items when placed in a reusable bag;
    • bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs; or 
    • newspaper bags, door-hanger bags, laundry-dry cleaning bags, or bags sold in packages containing multiple bags for uses such as food storage, garbage, pet waste, or yard waste.