As of 5th October 2015 we will be charged in England for using plastic carrier bags. It is only natural that we might have a few questions about this new law, you may be wondering why we are now being charged for the use of plastic carrier bags, how much the charge is and how it will work. So, let’s have a look at these questions and try to wrap our heads around the new law.
The reason for the new law is to help our environment. Here in England we are currently using 7.6 billion plastic carrier bags a year. These bags are then put into landfills and they will remain there for around 500 years until they have degraded. However, as you will already know, not all of our carrier bags make it to the landfills. No, some of them end up littering our towns and countryside. They can often be seen at the tops of the tallest trees blowing in the wind.
So how much does the government feel that this charge will help the environment? Well, they are hoping to cut the use of plastic carrier bags from the supermarkets by 80% and the high street by 50%. If this is possible, then they predict that it will save £60 million in litter clean ups.
The money raised from the bags will be donated to good causes.
We aren’t the only country to be charged for this product. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already implemented this law.
OK, so here in England we will be charged 5p per plastic carrier bag. This might not seem like a lot, but if you are planning on using plastic carrier bags for your weekly food shop, then it can start to add up.
So if possible, why not invest in a few ‘bag for life’ shopping bags. I would suggest keeping a few in the boot of your car so that they are always with you when you are out and about.
This bit can actually be quite fun as there are so many different types and designs available that you can pick some really nice bags that will cheer up your day.
How will it work?
Working out when we will be charged for plastic carrier bags can be a little bit complicated. So let’s have a look at the rules so that we can try to wrap our heads around them.
- Only stores with 250 or more members of staff will definitely charge 5p per plastic carrier bag. This also includes home deliveries. So please remember this when doing your online food shop, although I am not entirely sure how this will work yet.
- Small shops do not have to charge for plastic carrier bags.
- Paper bags are exempt from the charge.
- Free bags will be given if you are buying any of the following: uncooked meat, fish, poultry, prescription medicine, if you are buying fresh produce such as loose vegetables and fresh flowers and also ready-to-eat food such as chips.
Fortunately, this new law doesn’t really affect me as I already try to use my ‘bag for life’ as often as possible. I do this for environmental reasons and also because I don’t like having a build up of carrier bags in my cupboard! I do appreciate though that for some this charge will take a bit of getting used to, but please don’t succumb to ’till rage’ as this really wouldn’t be fair on the supermarket employees.
Do you think that the plastic carrier bag charge will help the environment?