Are you ready to spend £5 a year on carrier bags?

26 June 2014

Carrier_bagsWe’ve already told you that plastic bag tax is on its way, and from October 2015, if you don’t remember your bags, you get stung with a 5p charge. As for the Welsh scheme, any ‘profit’ on the levy is to be donated to ‘good causes’. However, what you really want to know is how much this is going to dent your pocket, right?

Despite being unable to tell how useless any given person will be at remembering/bothering to take bags with them, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has now calculated how much the levy will cost every household from 2015 onwards.

In total, shoppers are expected to spend more than £110 million a year with more than 2.2 billion bags being purchased each year between 2015 and 2018. This is instead of the seven billion bags currently dished out for free.

Dan Rogerson, environment minister, told MPs the gross revenue as a result of the charge in England is expected to be around £22.1 million in the three months, which equates to more than 442 million bags and 98p per household. This is expected to rise to £110.5million for the whole of 2016, which would comprise 2.2 billion bags and £4.91 per household.

By 2018 each household will spend an average of more than £5 on 2.27 billion plastic bags, totalling £113.5 million in 2018. At 5p per bag, that’s still 100 bags per home.

Mr Rogerson has confirmed that VAT is included in the 5p levy but that  “no profits generated from this charge goes to the Government". Other than the predicted almost £19m VAT windfall that is.

A Defra spokeswoman explained that the bag usage was predicted to increase between 2015 and 2018, rather than decrease owing to people getting better at remembering their bags, because of “things like population growth and the increasing number of convenience stores, such as Tesco Metro and Sainsbury's Local,” meaning there will be “more people stopping off for impulse purchases.”

Small retailers will be exempt from the charge, to prevent imposing burdens on start-up and growing businesses, and the charge will not apply to paper bags, which make up a massive 0.1 per cent of bags given out each year, presumably owing to the fact that plastic bags hold up slightly better in soggy British weather.


  • Jack J.
    5p per bag? Wow, how will we survive! People are really concerned they might have to actually remember to bring some carrier bags to go shopping, or else pay a whole FIVE pence for each bag?! There's still countries where millions of people live without clean running water, electricity, or have any medical care or education available to them and people in this country are in uproar because they could'nt give two shits about the environment if it costs them pennies... Serious first world problems. You make me sick.
  • Samantha
    Ideally the money generated from the charge would go towards causes that make the bags carbon neutral. Planting trees or maybe solar panels / wind turbines for social housing for instance.
  • GONUtS D.
    Another ridiculous tax on the poor, I call for means tested plastic bag tax
  • Mosskeeto
    What ever you think about this charge you still have to ask how it is justified? Yes we use billions of bags but they now biodegrade so what's the problem? We have millions of tons of non biodegradable waste being buried in landlfill with no action, surely this is the problem to address?
  • Alexis
    In that case, you'll be calling for £110 million to go to Water Aid Jack?
  • James D.
    As you know we already have this in wales, whilst it was initially annoying and there was some resistance we pretty much all like it now. The impact on rubbish is quite dramatic our hedgerows are no longer filled with carrier bags! You might ask why it would have such a dramatic impact. People used to take plastic bags for things when they really didnt need one. It often almost felt like you were stealing if you didnt have what you bought in a plasic bag. People would take a plastic bag when all they bought was a sausage roll or a tube of toothpaste. this has stopped people doing that and also people really are bringing bags to the shops now. Overall in wales, it is a success.

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