Date for England's plastic bag charge

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 18 August 2015

Date for England’s plastic bag charge A new law which requires large shops in England to charge 5p for all single-use plastic carrier bags comes into force from Monday 5 October 2015.

Date for England’s plastic bag charge A new law which requires large shops in England to charge 5p for all single-use plastic carrier bags comes into force from Monday 5 October 2015. All retailers with 250 or more full-time equivalent employees will have to charge a minimum of 5p for the single-use plastic carrier bags that they provide. The Government has introduced the scheme to reduce the use of single-use plastic carrier bags, and the litter associated with them, by encouraging people to re-use bags or to use é’bags for life’. MCS sees this as a positive step, having called for the charges which are already employed in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. However, we’re very disappointed that the approach taken by the Government doesn’t bring England into line with these schemes. Firstly, only stores that have 250 employees or more are obliged to charge. MCS has repeatedly highlighted the need to apply the charge to all single use bags across all retailers. We feel that shoppers and shopkeepers will be much less likely to change their habit of routinely taking and giving free bags at the counter if the charge is not evenly applied. The scheme is likely to be less successful than it could be, as has been seen in other countries that have applied a charge across the board. Dr Sue Kinsey, MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer, says “We are very pleased to see this scheme finally coming into force in England. However, we are extremely disappointed that Government appears to have ignored the views of many people and groups, including small business associations, who supported applying the charge across the board. We will be seeking to have this reviewed at the earliest available opportunity.” We are also concerned that unproven “biodegradable plastic” bags may be used, which would be exempt from the charge. No truly bidegradable plastic bag exists. It has also been reported recently that the charge may be taxed, which is likely to reduce the benefit of charitable funds raised through the scheme. Details of the scheme can be found on Defra’s website.

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