If you live in Scotland you’ll be well aware that, from this week, single-use carrier bags are no longer given out free when you’re buying goods in Scotland.
If you live in Wales or Northern Ireland, you’re already well acquainted with carrier bag charges.
And if you’re based in England, well you’ll be joining next year!
So what’s the bag levy all about? And if you’re a retailer, how can you help? Offering “Bags for Life” is one way.
Jump to our bag sale below!
In 2012, UK supermarkets gave out over 8 billion single-use carrier bags. That’s about 60,000 tonnes worth – and over 120 bags per person!
Discarded bags are not only a very visible form of littering, plastic bags are a problem even when disposed of responsibly – they can take centuries to break down in landfill sites and, if they get into rivers and oceans, can injure wildlife.
The environmental effect of plastic bags also goes beyond disposal – making the plastic in the first place consumes resources, including oil, which we’ll one day run out of.
As of this week, if you’re a retailer you’re required to charge a minimum of 5p per bag (you can charge more).
This goes for single-use carrier bags made from plastic, paper and some types of plant-based material.
Exemptions: Bags exempt from the charge include:
* Some plant-based materials: cotton, flax, hemp, jute or sisal
* Some small bags e.g. small paper bags without a handle or gusset, small plastic bags without a handle. (More exemptions here)
Recording info: If your business employs 10 or more full time equivalent (FTE) members of staff, you’re required to keep, retain and produce information about the single-use carrier bags supplied and the money received as a result.
Proceeds: You’re encouraged by the Scottish Government to donate the proceeds from the charge to good causes in Scotland, particularly environmental causes.
Wales introduced a 5 pence charge on new single-use carrier bags back in October 2011.
The Welsh government has a voluntary agreement with organisations and proceeds from the charge go to good causes.
The charge has been so effective that, while carrier bag distribution grew by 18% in England between 2010 and 2013, distribution in Wales fell 79%. Bag-nificent!
Similar to Wales, Northern Ireland adopted a minimum 5p charge on single-use carrier bags in April 2013.
The proceeds go back to the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment and are used to local environmental projects.
The charge has been so successful that a proposed rise to 10p in April 2014 was cancelled!
And in January (2015), the charge is being extended to all new carrier bags with a retail price below 20p – regardless of whether they’re single-use or reusable. The change is to dissuade people from buying new, cheap reusable bags – and instead reuse bags to their full potential.
England is introducing a 5p charge next October (2015) on single-use plastic carrier bags only.
As well as excluding paper bags, England is exempting small and medium-sized (SME) businesses.
The small business exemption aims to reduce costs on growing businesses but it has been contended by some MPs who feel it will make the charge ineffective. They’ve also pointed out that the schemes in Wales and Ireland haven’t harmed small businesses.
One thing you can do is offer durable, reusable bags!
And to help you in this quest we’re currently offering some amazing discounts on our Bags For Life!
Buy 10 for £15 – Was £18.70
Buy 50 for £70 - Was £93.48
Measures 34 x 40 x 18cm
|Jutiful Little Bag
Buy 10 for £15 – Was £19.05
Buy 50 for £70 – Was £95.29
Measures 34 x 40 x 18cm
|Jute comes from the jute plant, grown organically without pesticides or fertilizers. And because jute grows to maturity in just 4–6 months, it can be re-grown easily – making it a great renewable resource. Plus, jute is 100% compostable!|
Buy 10 for £15 - Was £21.52
Buy 50 for £70 - Was £107.56
Measures 30 x 29 x 18cm
|Juco is a mixture of jute and cotton. Jute + cotton = juco!|
Buy 10 for £13 - Was £14.84
Buy 100 for £125 - Was £148.35
Measures 43 x 37cm
Buy 10 for £13 - Was £15.52
Buy 100 for £125 - Was £155.29
Measures 43 x 37cm
Order before midday, Monday to Thursday, and you’ll receive your bags the next working day. Plus, orders over £85 receive free delivery!
Applies to England, Scotland and Wales. See our Delivery FAQs for more info.
* Take plastic and other single-use bags off your till points so that customers have to ask for bags.
* Offer incentives to encourage customers to bring their own bags.
* Use posters and in-store radio and tannoy systems to remind customers to bring their reusable bags with them.