Plastic Pollution

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Plastic pollution is a global problem that has drawn attention from many countries, states, communities, and individuals. Unfortunately, not all plastic can be recycled, and its lightweight nature means that on windy days it can be carried out of trash and recycling bins and into our waterways and natural areas. Single-use plastics (plastic bags, straws, take-out containers, plastic utensils, Styrofoam, etc.) are especially problematic.

State and local leaders have prioritized plastic pollution in Colorado, and laws are now being implemented to reduce single-use plastics. The Fort Collins Disposable Bag Ordinance became effective May 1, 2022, banning plastic carryout bags at large grocery stores and charging a 10-cent fee for paper bags. The State of Colorado has passed the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, a multi-phased law to reduce plastic pollution.

The first phase of the PPRA becomes effective on January 1, 2023, when large retailers will charge shoppers a 10-cent fee for plastic and paper bags used at checkout and for pickup and delivery orders. It will affect large retail stores like home-improvement stores, department stores, clothing stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and more. The state law will not affect small stores with three or fewer Colorado locations. Bag fees do not apply to shoppers participating in state and federal food programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infant and Children (WIC).

In January 2024, plastic bags will be banned from large retailers. Those stores will continue to offer paper bags for the 10-cent bag fee. In this phase, polystyrene (also known as Styrofoam) carryout containers will be banned from restaurants, fast food chains, grocery stores, and convenience stores.

Both the State and City laws aim to discourage using single-use plastic items by charging fees and eventually banning them while providing an alternative like paper bags. These laws also encourage making small, sustainable changes like using a reusable bag or bringing your own containers to pack leftovers from a restaurant.

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in the sidebar to learn more about the Fort Collins Disposable Bag Ordinance and the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.




Prepare for the Change

Get ready for the State law now by creating your own Bag Plan! Reusable is the future. Make the shift to reusable bags today!

Sept 1: Get your bags Most households need 5-10 bags. New and used reusable bags can be found at grocery stores, clothing stores, thrift stores or online marketplaces.

Step 2: Wash your bags – Reusable bags require regular cleaning.

Step 3: Stash them strategically - Place reusable bags in a convenient location like next to the door, in your car, bike trailer, purse, or backpack so you always have them when you need them.

Step 4: Get going - Use reusable bags each time you shop to get into the habit.

Step 5: Get creative - Already in the checkout line but forgot your bags? Put small purchases in a purse or backpack, or pack them back into your cart to transfer them to your car or bike trailer.

Already have your bag plan? Help your friends, family, and neighbors create a bag plan too!



Other Ways to Reduce Plastic Pollution and Promote Reuse
  • Support Fort Collins businesses that are committed to reducing waste

  • Bring reusable spoons, forks, knives, containers, to-go mugs, water bottles, and bags wherever you go

  • Support the reuse economy by repairing items, sharing items with friends, family, and neighbors, and shopping at thrift stores, consignment shops, and online marketplaces selling used items.

  • Upcycle items in your home to give them an additional purpose, such as using a t-shirt you no longer wear to make a reusable bag (Tutorial in the sidebar).

  • Participate in tool or equipment sharing in your community for projects


Check out the resources tab for more ideas on reducing plastic pollution in your home, business, or community.


For Businesses

Find short videos about what to expect, how to remit fees and more at fcgov.com/plastics-business-resources.

para ver este video en español, haz clic aquí

Plastic pollution is a global problem that has drawn attention from many countries, states, communities, and individuals. Unfortunately, not all plastic can be recycled, and its lightweight nature means that on windy days it can be carried out of trash and recycling bins and into our waterways and natural areas. Single-use plastics (plastic bags, straws, take-out containers, plastic utensils, Styrofoam, etc.) are especially problematic.

State and local leaders have prioritized plastic pollution in Colorado, and laws are now being implemented to reduce single-use plastics. The Fort Collins Disposable Bag Ordinance became effective May 1, 2022, banning plastic carryout bags at large grocery stores and charging a 10-cent fee for paper bags. The State of Colorado has passed the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, a multi-phased law to reduce plastic pollution.

The first phase of the PPRA becomes effective on January 1, 2023, when large retailers will charge shoppers a 10-cent fee for plastic and paper bags used at checkout and for pickup and delivery orders. It will affect large retail stores like home-improvement stores, department stores, clothing stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and more. The state law will not affect small stores with three or fewer Colorado locations. Bag fees do not apply to shoppers participating in state and federal food programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infant and Children (WIC).

In January 2024, plastic bags will be banned from large retailers. Those stores will continue to offer paper bags for the 10-cent bag fee. In this phase, polystyrene (also known as Styrofoam) carryout containers will be banned from restaurants, fast food chains, grocery stores, and convenience stores.

Both the State and City laws aim to discourage using single-use plastic items by charging fees and eventually banning them while providing an alternative like paper bags. These laws also encourage making small, sustainable changes like using a reusable bag or bringing your own containers to pack leftovers from a restaurant.

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in the sidebar to learn more about the Fort Collins Disposable Bag Ordinance and the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.




Prepare for the Change

Get ready for the State law now by creating your own Bag Plan! Reusable is the future. Make the shift to reusable bags today!

Sept 1: Get your bags Most households need 5-10 bags. New and used reusable bags can be found at grocery stores, clothing stores, thrift stores or online marketplaces.

Step 2: Wash your bags – Reusable bags require regular cleaning.

Step 3: Stash them strategically - Place reusable bags in a convenient location like next to the door, in your car, bike trailer, purse, or backpack so you always have them when you need them.

Step 4: Get going - Use reusable bags each time you shop to get into the habit.

Step 5: Get creative - Already in the checkout line but forgot your bags? Put small purchases in a purse or backpack, or pack them back into your cart to transfer them to your car or bike trailer.

Already have your bag plan? Help your friends, family, and neighbors create a bag plan too!



Other Ways to Reduce Plastic Pollution and Promote Reuse
  • Support Fort Collins businesses that are committed to reducing waste

  • Bring reusable spoons, forks, knives, containers, to-go mugs, water bottles, and bags wherever you go

  • Support the reuse economy by repairing items, sharing items with friends, family, and neighbors, and shopping at thrift stores, consignment shops, and online marketplaces selling used items.

  • Upcycle items in your home to give them an additional purpose, such as using a t-shirt you no longer wear to make a reusable bag (Tutorial in the sidebar).

  • Participate in tool or equipment sharing in your community for projects


Check out the resources tab for more ideas on reducing plastic pollution in your home, business, or community.


For Businesses

Find short videos about what to expect, how to remit fees and more at fcgov.com/plastics-business-resources.

Ask a question...

Have a question about plastic pollution laws, bag fees, and/or bans? Ask it here!

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  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Do not mind the "bag" issue, but plastic water bottles seem more of a scourge. Why not regulate the sale of plastic bottled water?

    Ken C asked about 1 month ago

    Thank you for reaching out with your question. Our community/Council and the State of Colorado are addressing plastic pollution by administering bag fees and bans to encourage reusable options to save money and mitigate plastic pollution. Similar to promoting reusable bags shopping, we know that reusable water bottles are a great alternative to plastic bottles. The difference between these two plastic materials comes down to recycling markets and accessibility to recycling for customers. Water bottles have a viable market in curbside recycling, where plastic bags and other plastic films cannot go in curbside and need to be taken to drop-off. 

    The Fort Collins Disposable Bag Ordinance and the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act address a large amount of plastic pollution in our community but do not capture all the different plastic materials that impact our health and environment. In addition, Colorado has passed the Producer Responsibility Program for Statewide Recycling Act. By implementing this Act, the State of Colorado is putting the producers responsible for the end life of a product, such as water bottles, containers, jugs, etc. zero


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    Why don't we mandate all plastics made by petrochemical companies to be 100% recyclable instead of putting it on people as their fault when we have no choice.

    Out2Lunch asked 2 months ago

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Bag fees and bans are steps in transitioning consumer behaviors and the single-use plastics market. Policies across the United States show us that switching to reusable is essential for climate, waste, and air quality goals. Corporate responsibility for these single-use products is another crucial step in reducing and mitigating these unsustainable items. The State of Colorado has passed the Producer Responsibility Program for Statewide Recycling Act, or House Bill 22-1355. Producer Responsibility programs address the materials circulated in our economy and create more closed-loop recycling systems that put the responsibility on the producer. 

    While Fort Collins community members have access to film recycling, such as plastic bags at the Timberline Recycling Center, by banning plastic bags, we are mitigating the entire life cycle of a plastic bag from production to disposal in our communities. 

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    Has anyone looked into an increase in purchasing plastic garbage bags? I have always recycled my grocery bags and used for garbage bags. Maybe I am the only one

    Kdutton asked 2 months ago

    Thank you for your questions. We do not have data on the number of plastic garbage bags bought in Fort Collins. 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.  We have more tips on this website to reduce and reuse! 

Page last updated: 19 Dec 2022, 03:28 PM