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City Council Approves Ordinance on Disposable Bags

The Fort Collins City Council on Tuesday night approved a disposable bag ordinance that requires retailers across the community to charge customers a minimum 5-cent fee on single-use plastic and paper bags.

As part of the efforts to contribute to the community’s goals for waste reduction and reuse, Council expanded the ordinance from grocers to include all retailers as part of the 5-2 vote Tuesday. Details of the final ordinance include:

  • The charge for disposable bags will apply to all retailers except for farmers’ markets, temporary vendors of food products, restaurants and garage sales.
  • Newspaper sleeve bags are not included in the ordinance.
  • Sales tax will be charged on disposable bags.
  • Retailers will keep all proceeds from the bag fee; there are no requirements for how retailers spend the money.
  • All customers who receive a disposable bag must pay for it; however, retailers must inform customers and get their consent before they provide a disposable bag.The minimum charge for bags is five cents.
  • Retailers may continue to offer rebates to shoppers who bring their own bags.
  • The ordinance goes into effect April 1, 2015.

As part of the new ordinance, the City will work to find alternatives to using disposable bags in City operations and create a public awareness campaign to educate retailers and shoppers.

The ordinance is expected to help the community achieve waste reduction and reuse and to foster new habits for shoppers to use durable, reusable bags as part of the community’s commitment to zero-waste. The program also will divert trash from landfills, help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce life-cycle impacts of single-use bags and reduce stray litter and pollution in the community and in the natural environment.The City Council in December 2013 adopted new waste reduction goals to assist the City with its Road to Zero Waste by 2030.

Read the final amended ordinance and a matrix describing ordinance details.

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Fort Collins Now Recycling More Than Ever

Congratulations Fort Collins! Residents, businesses and a Fort Collins Utilities soils recovery project helped increase the City’s diversion rate – the amount recycled or composted compared with total waste generated – to 64.6 percent in 2013, up from 58.7 percent in 2012.

How much trash is that per person? Based on the 2013 population of 151,300 residents, Fort Collins generated 4.85 pounds of trash or landfill-bound material per capita per day. In 2012, per capita trash measured 5.12 pounds per day.


Read the full report and more about a City-led Soils Recovery Project that significantly reduced the amount of municipal debris going to the landfill.

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Zero Waste Plan Approved by City Council

What’s the future of waste reduction and recycling in Fort Collins? At the end of 2013, City Council approved new goals to get the City to zero waste by 2030. Interested in learning more about the Zero Waste plan? Visit Zero Waste Fort Collins or read our press release for more information.

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Start Recycling at Your Business or Apartment Complex

Want to start a recycling or composting at your workplace? Do you hope to have recycling options at your apartment complex? Now’s a great time to start! The City of Fort Collins' Waste Reduction and Recycling Assistance Program (WRAP) is offering financial incentives for businesses and multi-family complexes to start such programs.

Take a quick peek at the WRAP overview. If you'd like more details, this brochure can help you. Thanks to this program, you could even get a financial incentive for referring someone to start a program!

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Curbside Recycling Made Easy

Nearly everything can be reused or recycled, but do you know what you can and can't place in your recycling bin? We've made it easy to become a recycling expert! Check out our easy-to-follow Recycling Guidelines Poster.

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Keep Cardboard from the Landfill

The City of Fort Collins recently adopted a regulation to prohibit corrugated cardboard boxes/packaging from disposal in the landfill. This affects all commercial, industrial, and residential generators. Learn more about the ordinance and what it means to Fort Collins residents. Why is this an important issue to tackle? Even though cardboard is easy to recycle, much of it continues to end up in our landfill. You can also read our article on the cardboard ban or view our informative brochure.  

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Glass Recycling Reduces Waste

You already know that all of the paper, metal, and plastic you place in your curbside recycle bin is made into new paper, metal and plastic. But did you know that glass is unique? It's the only material placed in our single-stream recycling that goes toward a "beneficial secondary use". Learn more about glass recycling.

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Keep Shredded Paper Out of Curbside Recycling Bins (PDF)

You probably think paper is paper, right? Not if it’s shredded paper. Unlike office paper, shredded paper can't go in your curbside bin. However, shredded paper can be taken to the City’s Recycling Drop-off site at 1702 Riverside Avenue, and placed in the mixed paper bin (#4).  

Here’s our advice. Before shredding paper, decide if there are just a few lines of information you want to keep protected. Tear off the information you consider confidential and shred it. The larger pieces of the paper can go into your curbside bin, and the shredded pieces taken to the City's Drop-off. Or, find a local business that can shred and recycle your documents for a fee.

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Don't Call Me Trash! Plastic Bag Recycling in Fort Collins

On March 18, 2013, the City Council reviewed an option on placing a fee for disposable shopping bags. The meeting resulted in a split vote. Still interested in learning more about this issue? Visit our website and take a peek at the Triple Bottom Line Report, which draws on disposable bag policies throughout the nation.

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Streets Crushing Operations Site

Doing a little foundation work? Reconstructing your driveway? Or, maybe you're just tidying up the yard of old cement chunks. If so, the City has a concrete recycling program that's free and open to the public. Recycled concrete is used as road-base for our city streets. Accepted materials include: concrete chunks (small, clean chunks), clean fill dirt, pit run (clean direct and rock mixture), and bricks. Not accepted: rebar or wire mesh, wood, other contaminants or excessive dirt, or asphalt. Learn more>>

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Take a Tour of Waste Management's Recycling Facility

If you're like us, your recycling bin is larger and fills up much faster than your trash bin. Thanks to community members, the City is able to divert significant amounts of recyclable goods from ending up in the landfill. But have you ever wondered where all of that recycling goes after it leaves the curb?

Tri-102.5 FM morning radio show host Paul Wozniak did, so he made the trip to Waste Management's recycling facility in Denver to see how the company sorts and processes Fort Collins' recycling. Check out Wozniak's tour in this YouTube video!

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Think Globally, Reuse Locally

Cleaning your garage, but can't bear to send all that stuff to the landfill? Freecycle it! The Fort Collins Freecycle group is more than 9,000 members strong and the rules are simple: everything posted must be free, legal and appropriate for all ages. Check out the local Freecycle Yahoo! group today! Additional local groups are in Berthoud, Loveland, Wellington, and Windsor. Or, check out, a different resource that allows you to post items for free reuse.

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BigBelly Solar Trash & Recycling Compacting Units

Check out this nifty video on the solar compacting trash and recycling bins around Fort Collins. Learn how these new “Solar Bellies” located around town are helping us all recycle bottles, cans, and paper away from home.  



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Recycle More & "Right Size" Your Trash

Did you know that by “right sizing” your trash, you could save money? This ongoing option is available to Fort Collins citizens living in single-family homes.  The “Pay-As-You Throw” (PAYT) trash ordinance enables you to call your trash hauler and request a bigger recycling cart.  Call your hauler today and order your bin. Haulers are required to deliver upgraded recycling bins (64-gallon or 96-gallon) to customers who request them. The less you throw away, the less you pay!

Here are two resources to help you stay current on PAYT: Volume-Based Rates and Amended PAYT Ordinance (PDF).

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The Garbage Garage Education Center

The Larimer County "Garbage Garage" center features educational and interactive displays about the problems associated with an overabundance of trash. "Patty Packrat" directs visitors, starting with the Mountain of Trash and from there you can choose from a variety of exits into areas depicting various methods of handling waste: reducing, reusing and recycling or landfilling. Then enter the kitchen/garage area to learn what household hazardous wastes are and how to safely handle them. The Garbage Garage is located at the Larimer County Landfill, 5887 S. Taft Hill Rd. For more information, visit Larimer County Landfill or call 970-498-5772.