What the 5p carrier bag charges means to you.
I have broken down all the information into simple terms…
Which shops will charge for bags?
Only retailers with 250 or more employees will need to charge for carrier bags. Smaller retailers can charge on a voluntary basis if they wish, however, they don’t need to. The charge depends on the size of the business, not the individual branch.
Are there any exemptions from the charge?
You will not be charged for paper bags. Also, bags only containing certain items, such as unwrapped food, raw meat and fish, prescription medicines, uncovered blades, seeds, bulbs and flowers, or live fish will also be exempt from the charge.
Why is this happening?
The scheme aims to reduce the use of single-use plastic carrier bags, and the litter associated with them, by encouraging people to re-use bags.
In 2014 more than 7.6 billion single-use plastic bags were given to customers by major supermarkets in England. That’s around 140 bags per person, equivalent to 61,000 tonnes in total. They take longer than other bags to degrade in the environment, can damage wildlife, and are extremely visible when littered in our towns, parks and the countryside.
Government bosses said they expect to see a significant reduction in the use of single-use plastic carrier bags as a direct result of the charge – by as much as 80% in supermarkets and 50% on the high street.
How will the proceeds will be used?
This is not a tax and the money from the charge does not go to the government. Retailers are expected to donate the proceeds of the scheme to good causes, but it is for them to choose which causes to support. Retailers are required to report to the government about what they do with the money from the charge.