What the Plastic Bag Charge means for You and Your Business

Read up on the rules and regulations of the England Plastic Bag Charge and how it will affect you and your business.

What do I need to charge for?

The government introduced a charge on Single-Use Carrier Bags in England this week, which will affect retailers across the country.

A Single Use Carrier Bag (SUCB) is an unused bag with handles for single use only, made of a lightweight plastic material of less than 70 microns.

Sellers must charge a minimum of 5 pence, inclusive of VAT, for each SUCB used by customers.

Customers are to be charged for SUCBs on both home delivery and also upon taking goods away from a shop.

How will the government know that I charge for my bags?

Sellers are required to keep a record of their charges and supply these records to their local authority.

If you fail to charge your customers accordingly, you will be in breach of the law.

If the Plastic Bag Charge applies to your business, then you are required to keep and supply records of your charges.

Any business that fails to do this or that lies in their records will also be in breach of the law.

Who is responsible for administering the charge?

Your county or district council is the relevant authority for enforcing the law.

They hold the power to enter your premises at any reasonable time to inspect your goods and ask you to produce your records.

They may also make a mystery shopper purchase or question you or any of your employees.

If they are led to believe that you have breached the SUCB charge, they can take action against you – however they must first present you or your employees with their ID and provide evidence as to their beliefs.

They can then ask you to make improvements, but will only ask once.

What will happen if I do not comply with the charge?

If you fail to comply with a discretionary requirement, you can be fined up to a maximum of 5, 000 GBP.

The council can also claim back costs including investigation, admin and lawyer fees.

They can also make you put up public notices explaining that a sanction has been imposed on your business and why it was imposed, as well as how much you were fined.

Table of Penalties
Breach Fine
Failure to charge customers for Single Use Carrier Bags £200 – £5,000
Failure to keep records detailing your charges £100 – £5,000
Failure to supply records detailing your charges £100 – £5,000
If you lie or present misleading information £20,000
Can I appeal a sanction?

You can appeal on any ground to a first tier Tribunal, and during your appeal period your fine or sanction will be suspended.

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