Single Use Plastic Bags – a load of old rubbish but beware 5th October 2015

Thursday 15th October 2015

If you’re a retailer with over 250 full time equivalent employees then chances are that on 5 October 2015 new legislation means that you will have to charge your customers a minimum of 5p for each single use plastic bag supplied to them unless that bag is exempt. In addition you will also need to report to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (“DEFRA”) once a year on a number of matters including the number of bags distributed and money received from the sales.

The Single Use Carrier Bags (Charges) England Order 2015 is intended to help combat the increasing volumes of plastic bag waste. The legislation was undoubtedly aimed at the larger retailers, particularly supermarkets, but the effect of the legislation will extend to retailers way beyond the supermarket retail giants.

In a press release issued in July 2015 DEFRA said “British shoppers took 8.5 billion single-use carrier bags from major supermarkets in 2014”. They went further and said this was an increase of 200 million over 2013.

The environmental justifications for the regulations are clear – plastic takes years to fully decompose and in the meantime millions of these bags are polluting our environment. Good corporate governance requires you to consider and, if necessary, address the issue before 5 October as, on or after that date, you could be subject to enforcement action by your local authority which could lead to, amongst other things, fines up to £5000, the issuing of a non-compliance notice and orders that you must advertise that you’ve broken the law, what your penalty was and how you are now complying.

If you would like to discuss this issue in further detail, please contact Dan Stowers, on 0113 227 0344 or at