DENVER (KDVR) — At the start of 2023, stores across Colorado started charging a 10-cent fee for plastic bags.

Lawmakers passed the measure last year in an effort to reduce some of the plastic pollution in the state.

There will be a complete plastic bag ban starting on Jan. 1, 2024, meaning stores will only be allowed to furnish recycled paper bags. However, retailers will be allowed to continue using the plastic bags in their inventory through June 1, 2024.

What happens to the fee money?

According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, starting on April 1, 2024, 60% of the fee revenue will be required to be sent to the municipality or county within which the store is located.

That 60% portion of the fee revenue can be used by the municipality or county to pay for administrative and enforcement costs and any recycling, composting, or other waste diversion programs or related outreach or education activities.

The other 40% of the fee revenue will be kept by the store.

What happens if a business doesn’t charge the fee?

According to the legislation, if a store or retail food establishment does not charge the bag fee, a fine of up to $500 can be charged for the second violation and up to a $1,000 fine can be charged for the third or any subsequent violations.

The legislation also said that a local government cannot enforce a violation that is committed by a retail food establishment if it is located within a school.

What bags are exempt from the fee?

There are some items that are exempt from the bag fee. Those items are packaging used for pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices or dietary supplements, as well as any equipment or materials used to manufacture pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, or dietary supplements.

Shoppers who receive state or federal food assistance are exempt from bag fees.

What bags will you not be charged for?

According to Eco-Cycle, the following bags will not have a fee:

  • Produce bags, bakery bags, or deli bags
  • Bags used for food that could contaminate other items, such as frozen food, meat, seafood, etc.
  • Bags used inside the store to package bulk items, or wrap frozen or fresh foods, flowers, or other items where dampness may be a problem
  • Bags for prescription drugs
  • Bags for dry cleaning or laundry
  • Bags for the sale of small pets, like fish, crustaceans, mollusks and insects

The toolkit also said a customer will not be charged for a damage bag if it is ripped while items are being packed in it.