Fort Collins election results: Plastic bag ban approved
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Fort Collins voters approved a ban on single-use plastic bags at major grocery stores and a 12-cent fee for paper bags.
About 59% of voters (23,657 votes) voted in favor of the ban, according to unofficial election results released by the city clerk’s office around 12:40 a.m. Wednesday.
The ban will come into effect in May 2022 and may be extended to other retailers, restaurants and single-use plastics in the future. Fees for paper bags will be split 50-50 between the retailers who charge the fees and the city, which will use its share to monitor and enforce the policy and provide reusable bags to low-income households.
Fort Collins joins 16 other Colorado communities that regulate single-use plastic bags.
The plastic bag ban only applies to point-of-sale bags — the type used to wrap groceries — at major grocers. A large grocer is defined as a grocery store of at least 10,000 square feet selling all or at least four of the following types of items: staple foods, meat, fresh produce, dairy, frozen food, or other perishable items primarily intended for human consumption. As a benchmark for square footage, Beavers Market at 1100 W. Mountain Ave. is approximately 7,000 square feet.
The ordinance does not apply to produce bags, dog poop bags, garbage bags or other types of plastic bags.
Paper bag fees will not apply to people using food stamps or other forms of government assistance to purchase their groceries. The Fort Collins City Council is exploring other ways to prevent regressive impacts, such as banning fees for shoppers who present any type of government benefit card.
“I am thrilled that Fort Collins voters have chosen to do the right thing for our city and our environment to reduce plastic waste in our community,” said council member Julie Pignataro, one of the leaders locals who lobbied for the policy, in a statement. “This is a small step that will have a huge impact on the overall health of our neighborhoods.”
Pending state legislation may end up preempting parts of local law. State legislation would implement a broader ban on single-use plastic bags at nearly all restaurants and retailers and a 10-cent fee for paper bags, beginning September 2022, as well as a ban expanded polystyrene containers in retail food establishments, starting in January 2022. .
advice impose the bag ban on voters after a truncated public engagement process that troubled the two council members who opposed the policy. Council members supportive of the ballot measure felt that a citywide vote was itself a form of public engagement, and they pointed to responses to city surveys that broadly supported the policy.
Plastic bags make up a small part of the community’s waste stream, but the city will eventually have to fix it to reach its goal of zero waste by 2030. Council members who backed the ban said they would also tackle litter and microplastic pollution, which are known to harm air and water quality.
It was the council’s third attempt to regulate plastic bags since 2013. The previous two efforts involved a 5 to 10 cent fee for plastic bags.
A citizen effort to ban plastic bags failed before going to the polls in 2019.
The council’s 2014 effort inspired swift opposition, including a citizens’ petition that led the council to repeal the plastic bag tax it had passed weeks before.
Public response to the 2021 ballot measure has been relatively mild. It inspired no organized opposition groups and little campaign spending. The Oui le 26 support committee raised approximately $3,250 for the measure, a fraction of the money involved in advocacy and opposition to the Hughes Stadium ballot measure.
Jacy Marmaduke covers government liability for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @jacymarmaduke. Support his work and that of other Colorado journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.