0845 094 2228

It may be seen by some as just another environmental tax, however the carrier bag charges coming into effect in England next month are, according to Defra, necessary to “protect our environment from litter and pollution”.

Back in 2014, the major supermarkets in England distributed over a staggering 7.6 billion plastic bags, an increase of 233 million on 2013.

Defra say that the new 5p charge could reduce this amount by up to 80%. The introduction of the same charge in Wales has seen a reduction of 71% since 2011. In Scotland, the charge resulted in a 22% (147 million bags) drop despite the levy only being in place for the final 11 weeks of 2014.

With this reduction Defra expect to see an overall benefit of up to £730 million raised for good causes, £60 million savings in litter clean-up costs and carbon savings of around £13 million, as well as boost to the economy.

The charge comes into play next month on 5 October.

Here is what you need to know to stay ahead of the game:

  1. You only need to comply with the charge if you are a retailer with 250 or more employees. This is to reduce the administrative burden on small and medium sized businesses, however they can charge on a voluntary basis if they so wish.

  2. Bags to be charged for must be unused, plastic, have handles and be 70 microns or less.

  3. There are several exemptions where bags have certain uses, such as for uncooked fish and meat, being made from paper or for services (e.g. dry cleaning). You can read the full list here.

  4.  You must send details to Defra once a year on;

a) the number of bags you distributed

b) the amount of money you received from selling bags

c) any VAT you paid on the money received for the bags

d) what you did with the proceeds

e) details of “reasonable costs”. These are costs incurred to comply with the legislation, such as changing till systems, training staff, administering donations to good causes and getting expert advice. It is expected that these costs will reduce after the first year of complying.

Reporting will be done on an annual basis with the first reporting period taking place from 5 October 2015 to 6 April 2016, and then from 7 April to 6 April the following year from 2016 onwards.

  1. Proceeds from the bags should be donated to good causes; the money doesn’t go to the government, hence not making it a tax.

You can find more detailed guidance from Defra here. If you have any queries don’t hesitate to get in touch with the ecosurety team at packaging@ecosurety.com or on 0845 094 2228.

Error loading Partial View script (file: ~/Views/MacroPartials/AuthorDetails.cshtml)
Error loading Partial View script (file: ~/Views/MacroPartials/FeedItemSummary.cshtml)

Useful links


Webinar: Packaging compliance in France

In this free webinar our specialists will help you to understand your packaging obligations in France and Germany. You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.
This webinar is CPD accredited.

Read More >>

Webinar: Packaging compliance data preparation

Are you involved in the preparation and submission of packaging data? Join client services manager Abigail Warren for an overview of data and other requirements to help you get ready for the 2018 packaging compliance registration.

Read More >>

Ecosurety response to the DRS consultation

Our response to the EA consultation on the potential impacts of a Deposit Recycle Scheme (DRS) in the UK was submitted last month

Read More >>