14 May 2021

Single-use plastic bag charge is here - are you ready?

Retailers in England will be required to charge 10p for all single-use plastic carrier bags from Friday, May 21.

The plastic bag charge will apply to retailers of all sizes; previous legislation only applied to businesses with more than 50 employees.

To help you be ready for the new carrier bag charges, we've created some free posters for you to download. They help explain to new rules to customers - and show them where their money will go

What you need to know:

  • The single-use carrier bag charge will increase to 10 pence and will be extended to all retailers in England from May 21, 2021.
  • This includes small, medium and micro retailers (including airport retailers).
  • You do not need to charge an extra 10 pence if you already charge 10 pence or more for bags.
  • Biodegradable bags are not exempt from the charge.
  • You do not need to charge an extra 10 pence if you already charge 10 pence or more for bags.
  • You do not have to keep records or report carrier bag use if your business employs fewer than 250 staff.
  • You could be fined if you do not charge.

Large retailers must report their carrier bag sales to Defra, smaller retailers are not obliged to but can do so voluntarily.

It is recommended proceeds from sales are donated to charity once reasonable costs are deducted. These include:

  • the cost of changing till systems
  • training staff
  • communicating the policy to staff and customers
  • getting expert advice
  • administering donations to good causes

You cannot include existing costs, such as the cost of the bags

Read the Government's full guidance here


For more information on how to become a more sustainable independent retailer, visit our Sustainability Hub.

Additional Guidance and Resources