Supermarkets to charge 5p for plastic carrier bags from today!

From 5th October 2015, all the supermarkets and major retailers will charge a minimum of 5p for plastic bags. This is not only applicable to supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons, but also to other types of major retailers such as clothing stores.

The charge is applicable to single-use, thin, plastic carrier bags from major retailer hiring more than 250 employees. The 5p charge applies to bags that are thinner than 0.07mm in thickness, which is the pretty much the bags available in all the shops.

Corner shops are still giving away bags for free if they prefer to, but many have indicated the plan to adopt the charge scheme.

Some 8.5 billion single-use plastic bags were taken home by UK shoppers last year – 7.64 billion of those in England. Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) wants to curb the number of plastic bags because of their harmful effects on the environment. It says the bags, which can take 1,000 years to decompose, often end up as “unsightly litter” – costing an estimated £10 million a year to clean up in England.

Plastic bag littering is also bad for wildlife as the bags can choke or poison fish, animals and birds.

Most or all of the supermarkets have Bags for life which are much lesser than the 0.07mm threshold, but, they won’t be counted as single-use bag and hence will be obliged to charge 5p for them. The retailers will replace the bag for free if they are damaged or worn out.

However, there are certain exceptions where the bags can be obtained for free:

If you’re buying certain types of product, you’ll be able to get a free bag – typically for food safety reasons.
These include:
• Uncooked fish, meat and poultry (even if it’s in a packet)
• Unwrapped food, or food sold in containers that normally won’t prevent leaking
• Unwrapped loose seeds and flowers
• Unwrapped blades, including axes, knives and razor blades;
• Prescription medicine
• Gold fish
• Bags at airports or on trains, planes or ships

But there’s a catch: if you add products that aren’t on the list – say, a box of cornflakes or a packet of crisps – into the same bag, then you’ll have to pay.

– Spadman