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Retailer Carrier Bag Costs Double

Retailers of any size (large, medium, small, micro and airport retailers) must charge a minimum of 10 pence for single-use carrier bags in England from Friday 21 May 2021, and they could be fined if they do not charge, so don't expect any freebies going forwards!

The local authorities will be performing spot checks and audits and the possible fines to retailers are as below

The new charge, up from 5p, and now moved to all retailers, not just the larger ones, will have to charge the fee for any non-reusable bags (single-use plastic carrier bags), used in a transaction, including bags used for collections and deliveries in England.

Whats a single use bag?

A single use bag is classified as:

  • unused - it’s new and has not already been used for sold goods to be taken away or delivered

  • plastic and 70 microns thick or less

  • it has handles, an opening and is not sealed

You are still allowed to ask for a free bag, if the contents of the bag solely contain any of the following, however if you were to add something like a box of cornflakes to the bag, you would then be charged the 10p :

  • uncooked fish and fish products

  • uncooked meat, poultry and their products

  • unwrapped food for animal or human consumption - such as chips, or food in containers that aren’t secure enough to prevent leakage during handling

  • unwrapped loose seeds

  • flowers

  • bulbs, corms or rhizomes (roots, stems and shoots, such as ginger).

  • goods contaminated by soil (like potatoes or plants)

  • for unwrapped blades, including axes, knives, and knife and razor blades

  • for prescription medicine

  • used for a service, but there is no sale of goods, for example dry cleaning

  • that are sealed transit bags used for alcohol and tobacco

  • considered as sealed packaging for mail order and click-and-collect orders

  • used to give away free promotional material

The retailers are still able to offer the bag for life type products, such as

  • woven plastic bags

  • multiple reuse bags (bags for life), when replacing free of charge, if originally sold for 10 pence or more

The retailer can still charge for these bags but they do not have to make any donations to good causes, as they have to with the single use bags.

A returnable multiple reuse bag must be all of the following:

  • sold for 10 pence or more

  • suitable for reuse

  • replaced free of charge if returned to you when worn out

Once the retailers have deducted reasonable costs, for the supply and processing of the bags, (but not the actual cost of the bags themselves), it’s expected of them, that they will donate all proceeds to good causes, particularly environmental causes.

Since the government introduced the charge:

  • it’s generated approximately £150 million for good causes

  • the 7 key retailers have distributed around 15.6 billion fewer bags

So bear this in mind, next time you head out to the shops, try and remember to take bags with you, otherwise your shop is going to get more expensive, with little to show for the extra expense!


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