Carrier Bag Levy

Carrier Bag Levy


From April 2021 the voluntary scheme that allows but does not require small and medium size retailers to charge for carrier bags comes to an end and ALL retailers, whatever the size of their business, will be required to charge for single use carrier bags.

The government is also increasing the charge from 5p per bag to 10p, also from April 2021.

This change applies to England only. Separate schemes operate in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The government’s guidance, which has not been updated for the April 2021 changes, can be found here:,opening%20and%20isn’t%20sealed

What is required of retailers?
From April 2021 small and medium size retailers will be required to charge 10p (including VAT) for each single use plastic carrier bag, provided that the bag

  • Is new, not reused
  • Is plastic and 70 microns or less thick
  • Has handles, an opening and isn’t sealed.

In certain cases, the carrier bag is exempt from the charge:

  • Woven plastic bags
  • Replacement of a bag for life that cost more than 10p
  • Bags that are solely used for:
    • Fish and fish products
    • Uncooked meat and poultry and their products
    • Unwrapped food for human consumption (eg chips)
    • Unwrapped loose seeds
    • Flowers
    • Goods contaminated by soil (eg potatoes)
    • Unwrapped blades

Large retailers are currently required to report to government on the number of bags sold, the proceeds, the VAT collected, any reasonable costs deducted (eg the cost of staff training, but not the cost of the bags) and what was one with the proceeds.

It is not clear yet whether small retailers will be required to report such information.   If there is a reporting requirement announced, this page will be updated with details.

The Proceeds
After costs you are expected to donate the proceeds to good causes, with a preference for environmental causes.
Your local authority can carry out an inspection to ensure you are complying with the law.

The fixed penalty for not charging is currently £200 for a first offence and up to £5,000 for subsequent offences.

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