Consumers in Fort Collins have already gotten used to bringing their own bags to grocery stores following a 2021 city ordinance that banned single-use plastic bags.

Beginning Jan. 1, Larimer County will follow suit to comply with a state law, also passed in 2021, that requires large retail stores to charge a fee of at least 10 cents per disposable bag at the time of sale. Small Brown Paper Bags

Larimer County bag fee goes into effect Jan. 1

In Larimer County, the fee will be 10 cents for every single-use plastic bag or recyclable paper bag retailers provide to customers. A retail store is defined as a grocery store, supermarket, convenience store, liquor store, dry cleaner, pharmacy, drug store, clothing store, or other types of retail establishments where carryout bags are provided to customers.

Six cents of the 10-cent fee for each bag will go to Larimer County. The retailer keeps 4 cents.

Tracy Hines, the county's sales tax manager, said the county is still going through the "small store" exemption process, and the number of businesses affected by the new policy is still unknown.

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Estimated revenue from the fee is "relatively low, about $4,000, because the county has no big box or large chain stores that use many carryout bags in the unincorporated areas," she said. "I am anticipating only a handful of businesses to qualify for collecting the fee."

That change will not impact small stores, which are defined as having three or fewer locations in Colorado, or stores that are not part of any chain or corporation.

While Larimer County's order applies only to unincorporated parts of the county, the new state law requires every large retail store in Colorado to collect a fee of at least 10 cents per paper or plastic bag at checkout starting in 2023.

More changes will be coming in 2024, when state law will require that plastic bags be eliminated by large retailers. Retail stores in Larimer County will be able to provide only a recycled paper bag to customers for 10 cents per bag from that point on.

Perhaps the most significant change from the state also comes in 2024: a ban on restaurants and other retail food providers using polystyrene containers. Polystyrene is used for takeout containers as well as cups at some restaurants. That change does apply to small businesses. 

Larimer County bag fee goes into effect Jan. 1

Kraft Paper Bag Die Cut Coloradoan reporter Molly Bohannon contributed to this report.