On Monday 5th October, England became the final country in the UK to implement a minimum five pence charge for plastic carrier bags. The legislation in England only covers single-use plastic carrier bags, with handles, 70 microns thick or less. This includes biodegradable bags; however, unlike other countries in the UK, paper bags are not part of the legislation. Re-usable ‘bag for life’ bags are encouraged as an alternative to single-use bags.
Currently only large retailers, 250 employees or more, are required to implement the charge, however smaller retailers can voluntarily participate too. From the 5p charged per bag, around 4p of the proceeds are donated by the retailer to local good causes.
In 2014 over 7.6 billion single-use plastic bags were given to customers by major supermarkets in England. This works out to be approximately 140 per person in the year, equating to around 61,000 tonnes of waste.
The government hopes the scheme will cut use of plastic carrier bags by up to 80% in supermarkets, and by 50% on the High Street. It also expects to save £60m in litter clean-up costs as well as generating £730m for good causes over the next decade.
The sales teams here at Bunzl Catering Supplies have been actively speaking with our customers to discuss how this legislation could affect their business.