The whole of UK was in shock in October when the government introduced the new 5p charge on plastic bags. Now the whole country follows a law where companies and shops are required to charge customers for plastic carrier bags when they buy goods from the retailer. The reason it was introduced was to help protect wildlife by aiming to decrease the plastic litter however polystyrene plastic is exempt.
General, any retailer with more than 250 employees must charge a minimum 5p to customers for plastic bags. They are also have to keep records of the usage and are encouraged to donate the amount raised to different local environmental causes.
It is compulsory for all store owners to follow the law, but some are finding novel ways to eliminate this charge and retain loyal customers. One of the ways they are doing this is by giving bags without handles, which was done by the Card Factory when they began to cut the handles off the bags. However these bags aren’t suitable to all retailers, i.e. supermarkets.
There are various other conditions, which customers avoid paying the fee. Below is a list showing the type of packaging, which can be provided without a fee.
Carrying Un-packaged Goods
Any size carrier bags that are used to carry exempt items such as un-packaged food items, loose seeds and specific medical products can be given away for free. If loose food bought for human or animal consumption such as fruits and vegetables, dry animal food, poultry, etc. a bag can be provided without you being charged for it.
If the retailer is selling a knife, knife blade, axe, razor blades and they aren’t providing the correct packaging, you don’t have to pay for the carrier bag. They also don’t charge for bags when buying certain medicinal items.
If you are buying a small item, you don’t need to pay the fee on a bag smaller than 175mm x 260mm and if it doesn’t have handles. Bags like this are usually used to give simple products like greeting cards, sweets confectionery and non-prescription medicines.
Delivery bags, i.e. courier bags and mail order bags can be handed out free of charge. Also when a living animal is, for example a pet fish, the bags must be provided free of charge. Box liners and crate liners are also exempt from any fees.
Duty free shops and other retail stores at the airport are also exempt from the carrier bag fee.