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Slide 1
Carrier Bag Levy
Slide 1
Carrier Bag Levy

Carrier Bag Levy


Four carrier bag levy schemes operate across the UK


In England, smaller retailers are exempt from the scheme (although most do charge) until May 21 2021. After that date changes to the scheme will see ALL retailers incorporated.  On 30th April, the charge will also increase from 5p to 10p per bag.


Retailers with less than 250 employees are not required to make returns of bags sold to government.


In Scotland, where retailers are already included on the scheme, the cost of a bag will increase to 10p on 1st April 2021


The cost of bags in Northern Ireland and Wales will remain at 5p


The government’s guidance for the scheme in England, which has not been updated for the April 2021 changes, can be found here: responsibilities#:~:text=You%20must%20charge%20a%20minimum%20of%205p%20a%20bag%20(including,opening%20and%20isn’t%20sealed

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What is required of retailers?

From May 21 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.

The Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has confirmed that retailers with less than 50 employers do not have to keep detailed records of sales.

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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