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'It's the first step toward zero waste': Plastic bags banned in large Fort Collins grocery stores

Plastic bags banned in large Fort Collins grocery stores
Posted at 9:00 AM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-02 11:00:18-04

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Fort Collins voters passed a disposable bag ordinance last year which banned plastic bags in large grocers as of May 1, 2022. The ordinance also implemented a 10-cent fee for paper bags at the stores.

When the ordinance went into effect, several shoppers at one of the King Soopers in Fort Collins expressed their support for the ban.

"When you consider how many people shop every day and weekly and monthly, it definitely adds up," Derek Grimes said. "You'll only pay it a couple times and realize, 'hey, maybe I should get some reusable bags and bring them in.'"

The program director for supply chain management at the University of Denver, Jack Buffington, said it's simple to find a replacement for a plastic bag, but it can be more difficult when it comes to other single-use plastics.

"Just because you put a plastic bottle in a recycling container doesn't mean it's going to be reused. In fact, a lot of what you recycle actually eventually ends up in a landfill, because the plastic that you recycle has to have some sort of economic value to it," Buffington said. "It's an economic problem as much as it is a consumer recycling problem."

Buffington said most consumers care about the environmental impact of their purchases, but money does come into play when making certain changes.

"Consumers will care if you make it economically viable for them to care. But if you don't, there's just more important things in their lives than the environment, unfortunately," Buffington said. "A state or national government that would incentivize entrepreneurs is the way that this thing is ultimately going to be solved — not through bans and taxes and regulations."

The money collected from the paper bag fee will be split 40/60 between the grocers and the City of Fort Collins. The stores will put the money toward staff training, recovering paper bag costs, promotional items and signage. The city will use the funds to reduce plastic pollution and waste, while increasing their efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Customers who receive income-qualified assistance at the local, state and federal levels do not have to pay the paper bag fee.