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The English Single Use Carrier Bag Charge shall be introduced on 5th October 2015. All sellers – i.e. a person who sells goods and employs 250+ members of staff on the first day of a reporting year – must charge a minimum of 5p for every Single Use Carrier bag. A Single Use Carrier Bag is any unused bag made of lightweight plastic material with handles. This article looks at the key facts and ‘need to knows’ of the charge.


EU member states must radically reduce plastic usage by 2019. All member states have begun charging or banning single use plastic bags so as to reduce litter and end the ‘throwaway culture.’

According to a recent study, there are an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the world’s oceans. It is estimated to weigh nearly 270,000 tons. More of it originates in the northern hemisphere than southern. This is causing severe damage to the food chain. Large pieces of plastic can strangle animals such as seals, while smaller pieces are ingested by fish and then fed up the food chain, all the way to humans.


A single use carrier bag in this case is any unused bag made of lightweight plastic material with handles. “Lightweight plastic material” means synthetic or semi-synthetic material made from polyamide, polyethylene, or any other polymers, the thickness of which is not greater than 70 microns.

The minimum charge is 5p (including VAT) on these Single Use Plastic Bags. This charge applies to companies with over 250+ full time employees unlike similar charges in other UK regions where all companies with more than 10 full time members of staff are actively encouraged to participate.


Exclusions to the English Bag Charge shall include; bags solely to contain unwrapped food for humans or animals, loose seeds and bulbs, blades, prescription medicine, uncooked meat, live aquatic creatures, returnable/reusable bags, such as jute or cotton, woven plastic bags and transit goods bags.


For each reporting year, retailers that are included in the Single Use Carrier Bag Charge must keep a record of;

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