Beginning 5-Oct-15, big shops/retailers in England began to charge five pence or 5p on every single plastic carrier bag the shopkeepers provided.
The United Kingdom government aims to protect its environment from pollution and is working towards creating a healthy environment for its citizens.
The government is focussed on reducing the use of plastic carrier bags, thereby, boosting UK citizens to reuse bags. With this scheme, the government estimated that the 5p charge on single use plastic carrier bags could reduce usage by as much as 80% in the big supermarkets.
Customers can skip paying the carrier bag charge either by using the single use plastic carrier bag again, or by carrying a multi-purpose carrier bag. Additionally, customers won’t be required to pay a 5p charge if:
Retailers, in the United Kingdom, are required to keep trajectory of number of plastic bags they have given to customer and where the count has gone.
They are also required to report the count of plastic bags to the Government before 31st May each year.
As mentioned about big shops/businesses, this is referring to retailers with employee strength of 250 or more.
Under the ‘A Green Future: 25 year environment improvement plan’, the United Kingdom government aims to spread the scheme to small retailers as well.
According to the 25 year environment plan, the accomplishment of the 5p plastic bag charge has helped to decrease the usage of carrier bags by 83%.
This reflects the alteration which government regulations can make, and validates that guarding the environment is mandatory and a task that each individual must take up seriously.
The government, firstly, is working towards making a voluntary arrangement with industries in the United Kingdom to attain this, before making it compulsory for small retailers
Work out if a Retail Store Qualifies as a big Shop/Retailer
Retailers in the United Kingdom need to work out the number of full-time equivalent or FTEs employed at the beginning of every reporting year.
Here, the reporting period is defined as the time period starting from 7 April every year to 6 April of the succeeding year.
The initial reporting period ran for a period of 6 months from 5-Oct-15 to 6- Apr-16.
For computation purpose – on the initial day of the recording year the retailer must compute the number of full-time equivalent or FTEs employed:
How to avoid paying Carrier Bag Tax?
United Kingdom citizens can escape paying carrier bag tax if they opt to carry their own bag for shopping.
In certain shops, customers can purchase heavier, environmentally friendly ‘bags for life’ and can keep using them again and again. These bags can even be replaced, free of cost, when they wear out
Bags for life and returnable bags
UK citizens are not required to pay 5p for:
Food and Plants
Retailers are not required to charge for plastic bags that are for:
Retailers are not obliged to charge for bags:
Live Fish and Aquatic Creatures
Retailers are not obliged to charge for bags containing aquatic creatures or live fish
Why there is a charge on plastic bags?
The scheme intends to decrease the usage of plastic carrier bags that can only be used at once, and encourage United Kingdom citizens to re-use bags.
In 2014, in excess of 7.6bn ‘single-use bags of plastic’ were provided to customers by key supermarkets in England. This is almost equivalent to ~140 bags per individual, equal to about 61,000 tonnes in total.
The problem with plastic bags is that they take a longer time than any other bag to degrade and are a threat to wildlife.
In spite of research indicating that the usual household even now had 40 plastic bags, the amount of plastic bags increased for the fifth year running in 2014.
In the similar manner as England, 5p charges are even applicable in place across Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. The government estimated that for 10 years the advantage of the scheme will include: