30 September 2015

A new charge for single-use carrier bags comes into force next Monday (5 October).

The introduction of the fees in England is part of the Government’s policy to reduce waste and the litter associated with plastic bags by encouraging people to re-use bags.

In 2014 over 7.6 billion single-use plastic bags were given to customers by major supermarkets in England. That’s something like 140 bags per person – equivalent to 61,000 tonnes in total.

Councillor Terry Fox, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport said: “We have been encouraging people locally to reduce the number of plastic bags they use for many years now through plastic bag amnesties and distributing thousands of bags for life.

“These plastic bags take longer than other bags to degrade, they can cause real problems for wildlife and are an eyesore when littered in our streets, parks and the countryside.

“I hope that everyone will remember to take their bags for life with them when going shopping – many stores replace them free of charge when they wear out.

“We welcome this legislation and hope that many of our local charities will benefit from any income generated by these new fees.”

Despite research showing that the average household already has 40 plastic bags around the home, the number of plastic bags taken from supermarkets increased for the fifth year running in 2014.

A significant reduction in the use of single-use plastic carrier bags is expected as a direct result of the charge – possibly by as much as 80 per cent in supermarkets and 50 per cent on the high street.
Similar five pence charges are already in place across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The scheme in Wales saw a reduction in plastic bag consumption of 79 per cent in its first three years.

It is estimated that over the next 10 years the benefits of the scheme will result in an expected overall benefit of over £780 million to the UK economy and up to £730 million raised for good causes

It is hoped that the new plastic bag fees are will lead to £60 million savings in litter clean-up costs and carbon savings of around £13 million.

The money from the charge will not go to the government. Retailers are expected to donate the proceeds of the scheme to good causes, but it is for them to choose what to do, and which causes to support.

Retailers will need to report to Government about what they do with the money from the charge, and this information will be published each year.

The charge in Wales has already generated millions of pounds for good causes.


Notes for editors:
The new legislation affects large retailers, where the minimum price will be five pence for most single-use plastic carrier bags. Small or medium-sized businesses don’t have to charge, but are free to do so voluntarily.
You must charge if you employ 250 or more full-time equivalent employees (in total and not just in retail roles). The number of full-time equivalent employees is the number of total hours contracted to work by all employees divided by the number of hours worked by a single full-time employee. A full-time staff member who worked all year counts as one employee. Part-time and seasonal staff and those who did not work the full year are counted as fractions of one employee.
You must charge if you:
•sell goods in England
•deliver goods to England
People with fewer than 250 full-time equivalent employees don’t have to charge. If your store is part of a franchise or symbol group (sharing a brand and products) you only count employees in your business. You don’t count the franchise or symbol group as a whole.
For example, if you own 10 stores in a symbol group and have more than 250 employees in total, you’ll have to charge for carrier bags. But if you’re part of a symbol group and own two stores with 15 employees, you don’t have to charge.
Further details may be found at: