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5p Carrier Bag Charge

A charge of five pence for single use carrier bags will be introduced in England in October this year, following similar schemes in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland.

However, not all bag charges are alike and there are significant changes between the different nations.

Reasons for the charge

The reasons behind the charge in each of the nations are broadly similar – to stop the huge number of single-use carrier bags heading for landfill.

In England, bags made of paper, woven plastic and biodegradable material will be exempt from the charge and small businesses (those with less than 250 employees) will also be exempt from taking part in the scheme.

But in the three devolved nations all single use carrier bags have the five pence levy – regardless of the material they are made of.

The English scheme’s difference has been sharply criticised by a committee of MPs who labelled the charging scheme a “mess” and overly “complex”.

The British Retail Consortium has also criticised the English scheme.

A BRC spokesperson said: “If we are to have regulation it needs to work for consumers, the environment and retailers. We are disappointed that the Government has chosen not to listen to the Environment Audit Committee, environment groups and retailers. This is poor regulation that will cause confusion for customers and businesses.”

Where’s the money going?
The Government expects the charge to raise around £70m for charity, which shops will donate directly, and has suggested it donates the cash to environmental organisations.

Are you ready for the introduction of the charge? Call CCS McLays to find out how we can help.