Environmental Charge on Plastic Shopping Bags in England

Single Use Carrier Bags (SUCB)
Single-Use Carrier Bags (SUCB)

The United Kingdom Government has introduced new legislation, which will be implemented in England only later this year.

The new legislation – The Single Use Carrier Bags Charges (England) Order 2015 (2015 No. 776) will require all large shops in England to charge 5p for all single-use plastic carrier bags from 5 October 2015.

The Order introduces provision about charging by sellers of goods for the supply of Single-Use Carrier Bags (“SUCBs”), which have handles and are made of plastic up to 70 microns thick and applies in relation to England only. The legislation does not apply to paper bags or the “Bag for Life” carriers sold by some Retailers. Similar legislation has been introduced in other parts of the United Kingdom.

The Order requires sellers to charge a minimum of 5 pence (including VAT) for each SUCB supplied in a reporting year for certain purposes (for example for enabling goods to be taken away). The sellers will be responsible for keeping records and to supply copies to the Secretary of State and to members of the public who ask for them. The Secretary of State must publish the records.

It should be explained that this charge is not intended to be a tax and that the money does not go to the Government. Each retailer can choose what to do with the proceeds from the charge with an expectation that we will donate the money to good causes.

The UK Government has chosen to exempt smaller businesses (those with fewer than 250 employees) from the plastic bag charge to reduce the admin burden on start-up and growing businesses as well as make exemptions for:

  • shops in transit places like airports or on board trains, aeroplanes and ships
  • bags containing certain items to avoid contamination and retain food safety.
Carrier Bag Artwork
Carrier Bag Artwork

The Local authorities in England will be responsible for enforcing this Order with a duty to publish reports and guidance about enforcement action. Additionally, sellers’ rights of appeal against enforcement decisions.

Artwork, such as the has been produced to ensure that retailers are able to provide advance information to their customers

A copy of the legislation can be found here together with further information, guidance and artwork at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/carrier-bags

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