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Introduction of 5 pence bag charge (30th Sept 2015)

From 5 October 2015, large shops in England will have to charge five pence for all single use plastic carrier bags they provide.

In 2013, the major supermarkets in England gave out over 7.4 billion plastic bags – that’s 133 bags for every person. To protect our environment from litter and pollution the Government is committed to bringing this number down.

The five pence charge on single use plastic carrier bags could reduce usage by as much as 80% in the big supermarkets. Small retailers don’t have to charge but can do so on a voluntary basis.

You can avoid paying the charge either by reusing single use plastic carrier bags, or by using multi-use bags for life. You also won’t pay a five pence charge if you’re using a paper bag, if you’re in transit, or if your bag only contains certain items, such as unwrapped food, raw meat and fish, prescription medicines, uncovered blades, seeds, bulbs and flowers, or live fish.

Retailers need to keep track of how many plastic bags they’ve given out and where the proceeds have gone. The Government expects good causes to benefit from the charge by tens of millions of pounds each year.

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