The Plastic Bag Charge: What You Need to Know

The plastic bag charge has been in force since October 5th, 2015, which means large shops across England have been required to charge a minimum of five pence for every single use plastic carrier bag they provide. Smaller retailers are not legally obligated to follow suit, but it is expected that most will do so on a voluntary basis. Here’s what you need to know about the ban.


  1. Some Bags are Exempt

The fee has gone ahead to make sure that more people make use of reusable bags instead of single use plastic ones, so shoppers can easily avoid being charged anything if they use more eco-friendly options. Paper bags, for example, are exempt under the scheme, so you won’t have to worry about being charged extra if you use one.

  1. Plastic Will Still be Allowed in Certain Areas

The plastic bag charge will apply in nearly all large shops which you would normally visit, but there are a few exceptions; you won’t be charged the fee if the shop is on a train, aeroplane, or ship, or if it’s in an airport. Of course, those are all pretty inconvenient for the weekly shop, so using one of the exempt bagging options is going to be easier. The only time when a plastic bag will not be charged during basic shops is when they’re used to contain certain items, such as unwrapped food, raw meat, and fish.

  1. It Will Produce Millions and Help the Environment

It has been estimated that the five pence charge will produce an incredible £1.5 billion over the next ten years, despite the fact that the fee is predicted to reduce the usage of plastic bags by up to 80% in larger supermarkets. Since plastic bag usage has been rising during the last five years, the estimated drop couldn’t be more welcome. Plastic bags take centuries to completely degrade, all while posing a risk to wildlife and consuming an enormous amount of resources.

Now that you know everything necessary about the plastic bag ban, you’ll be able to avoid being caught out once it comes into effect.