SHOPPING will cost you a little bit more from Monday 5 October if you don’t take your own bags along with you.
From next Monday, supermarket shoppers will have to pay 5p for single-use carrier bags, the move is under a new law that hopes to reduce litter and help the environment through increased recycling.
The new law requires all supermarkets and large stores to charge a minimum of 5p for every single-use bag they hand out to shoppers.
The new law will not apply to all retailers. Only retailers with 250 or more full-time equivalent employees are required to comply with the law, and these retailers are judged by the size of the whole company, not the branch. Smaller businesses can introduce a charge if they want to. The Association of Convenience Stores is urging small businesses to start their own voluntary charging schemes.
The government will not make any money, as such this is not a tax, the 5p will go to the retailer. The government are encouraging them to donate the proceeds to good causes.
There are some exceptions; paper bags from shops in airports or those given out on trains, aircraft or ships are free. Certain items also void the fee, including unwrapped food, raw meat, fish and other items that could pose a food safety risk, and prescription medicines, uncovered blades, seeds, bulbs and flowers.
If customers do not want to be charged for bags used in home delivery they must select the bagless delivery option, providing their chosen retailer has one. Tesco and Sainsbury’s have already announced that unless you choose bagless delivery, there is a 40p flat rate charge for home shopping.
How to avoid the charge
Customers can bring and use their own bags for shopping to avoid being charged. Some retailers sell a ‘bag for life’ for this purpose.
Why is the law being introduced?
The number of single-use carrier bags handed by supermarkets in England rose for a fifth consecutive year in 2014. Last year 7.6billion, or 140 bags per person, were given out, and each of these bags take 1,000 years to break down. Not only are they a very visible form of litter, they use resources and pose a risk to wildlife.
Will the law work?
It remains to be seen but similar schemes have made an immediate and significant impact. When the scheme was rolled out in Wales there was a 79 per cent reduction in plastic bag handouts within three years. Northern Ireland and Scotland have reported similar drops. Not only does the Government hope to see an 80 per cent reduction in single-use carrier bag handouts, it hopes to save hundreds of millions.