UK Bag Charges: Comparisons

Tuesday 13th January 2015

In the build-up to England's introduction to a Bag Charge (expected 5th October 2015), we take a short look at some of the key similarities and differences between the various UK charges and the proposals of this year's English Charge.

Primary Differences

  1. What constitutes a Single Use Carrier Bag differs somewhat between each region: In Wales, Single Use Carrier Bags are defined as those not designed for (substantial) reuse. They are often used for transporting goods and then one subsequent use only. In Scotland, the charge includes plastic, paper and biodegradable bags. For bags made wholly or mainly from plastic then the bag is considered to be a single use carrier bag if it is made of thin plastic (any part of the bag has a thickness of no more than 49 microns); or the bag is less than 439mm x 404mm when laid flat (excluding the handles).In England, a Single Use Carrier Bag is any unused bag made of lightweight plastic material with handles (including Biodegradable).
  2. The length of time the charges have been in force also varies: Wales have well established their charge having introduced it in 2011. Scotland have only recently introduced a charge while England shall introduce a charge in October 2015.
  3. Who the charge relates to: the Bag Charge in Wales applies to anyone that 'sells goods'. This includes (but not limited to) companies, individuals, sole traders, franchisees, charities, and public sector bodies. In Scotland, all retailers are encouraged to participate and to donate proceeds to a charitable donation. Retailers with more than 10 full time members of staff (more than 35 hours per week) must keep records of all bags sold. It is expected that all English sellers - defined as a person who sells goods and employs 250+ members of staff on the first day of a reporting year - shall be expected to charge for single use carrier bags.

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