Defra urged to provide clarity on plastic bag charge rules

A plastic Union Flag bag is carried by a shopper on December 27, 2018 in London, England.
Jack Taylor/Getty Images/File Photo

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to confirm the implementation date of upcoming changes to laws on single use plastic carrier bags.

The charge will increase to 10p in England and extend to all retailers, but the Defra has delayed the implementation from the previously expected 30 April due to issues with the parliamentary timetable.

“There are supposedly just weeks to go until the extension and increase in the plastic bag charge are supposed to come into force and we still don’t have clarity on the implementation date,” commented James Lowman, ACS chief executive.

“Small retailers need as much notice and support from Defra as possible ahead of the change to enable them to provide advance notice of the change to customers and colleagues, which will reduce the risk of confrontation in store.”

In England, the plastic bag charge is being extended to all retailers for the first time. The current 5p charge applies to retailers employing over 250 people. Businesses of any size already charge for plastic bags in Wales and Scotland.

The minimum price of a single use plastic carrier bag in Scotland has increased from 5p to 10p on 1 April.

“ACS has long supported the extension of the plastic bag charge to all retailers in England as a way to provide consistency for customers, and as another great way of raising money for local and environmental charities,” Lowman added.

The amendment to the Single Use Carrier Bags Charges (England) Order 2015 continues to provide smaller retailers with an exemption from reporting bags issued. Retailers with over 250 employees are required by law to record and report how many bags they sell.