Break the Bag Habit

5p charge introduced from Monday

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From 5 October 2015 all large retailers in England will be required by law to charge customers 5p per single use plastic carrier bag.

The Government expects this to cut the numbers of plastic bags being taken by up to 80%.

Plastic bagts

Charging for plastic bags has proved to be very popular and successful in those parts of the UK that have introduced it; three­quarters of the Welsh public back the charge, five years on from its introduction.

It has demonstrated no significant net impact on business.

There are big economic benefits. Plastic bags given away free by stores still had to be bought and paid for, and the costs associated with cleaning up discarded bags are significant. The Government expects savings to English councils, shops and the economy to be over £800 million a year.

The charge is not a tax to Government. Retailers are encouraged to donate the money to ‘good causes’, and must report back to the Government on where their donations have gone.

‘Bags for life’ and paper bags are exempt, as are some types of bag used for specific purposes (see list below). So-called ‘biodegradable’ bags are included in the charge.

The trade body for small shops, The Association of Convenience Storesw says it wants a plastic bag charge to be applied to its members in England as well as to large stores.

Friends of the Earth welcomed the news, adding "The exemptions for SMEs and paper bags should be removed. And plastic bags are just the start. There’s a long way to go to get to grips with our waste crisis. Retailers need to be made to clamp down on unnecessary plastic use throughout their operations – from the mountains of wrapping that engulfs food, to the over-­packaging that accompanies consumer goods".

When not to charge
Hat tip to @powellds

September 30, 2015

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