Mandatory charge for single-use carrier bags in England now in force

UPDATE May 21st

The compulsory 10p charge for single-use plastic carriers bags is now in force in England.

Now that the legislation is here traders in England (in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, retailers of all sizes already make a 5p charge for plastic bags) need to know the rules.

To be identified as a single-use chargeable carrier bag it must be:

• 70 microns or less

• must be unused

• must be plastic

• must have handles

After an enquiry from an NMTF member, DEFRA has confirmed to us that traders  must charge for biodegradable and compostable bags.

So far so good, but additionally there are a number of exemptions depending on the bag’s purpose.

It will not be chargeable if it is used for:

• Uncooked fish and fish products
• Uncooked meat, poultry and their products
• Unwrapped food for animal or human consumption eg chips, or food sold in containers not secure enough to prevent leakage during normal handling
• Unwrapped loose seeds, flowers, bulbs, corms, potatoes and plants
• Unwrapped blades, including axes, knives, and razor blades
• Prescription medicines

Or if it is a:

• Woven plastic bag
• A bag for life
• Bag given away for promotional use.

Unlike large businesses there will be no legal requirement to keep records.
There are fixed term penalties up to £200 for not charging for bags appropriately.