From 5 October onwards retailers in England with more than 250 employees must charge consumers 5p for a plastic carrier bag.
There are a number of exceptions including: multiple use ‘bags for life’, woven plastic bags, bags without handles, bags for prescription medicines and paper bags.
A similar policy has already been in place in Scotland and Wales, where retailers must charge for “single use” bags, regardless of material.
We’ve spoken to the UK’s biggest beauty retailers to see how they will be implementing the change and what they will be doing with the proceeds...
In Scotland and Wales, Boots has already been charging 5p per carrier bag and donating proceeds to Macmillan Cancer Support. From 5 October onwards, it will donate all UK proceeds to BBC Children in Need.
Superdrug is said to be introducing the charge and donating proceeds to support Marie Curie Cancer Care.
From today onwards, Debenhams will charge 5p for its carrier bags, with the proceeds being donated to The Debenhams Foundation, which supports BBC Children in Need, Help for Heroes and Breast Cancer Now.
The Fragrance Shop
The charge is already in place in The Fragrance Shop in Scotland and Wales, and will be implemented in England. The Fragrance Shop aims to raise £500,000 for partner charity, Rays of Sunshine, from proceeds of the 5p charge.
The supermarket will be implementing the charge both in-store and through online grocery shopping. Consumers shopping online will be charged 40p per delivery, representing the average number of carrier bags used per order. Each penny raised from the sale of bags will be donated to new community and environmental causes, which will be selected each year.
A spokesperson for the retailer told Cosmetics Business: “We have increased and improved our range of reusable bags that we provide to ensure our customers have a great range of alternatives. Over the last few months we’ve been communicating to our customers via emails, in store marketing material and training our Partners (employees) so they can have discussions with customers. We want to ensure our customers know about the timelines, what is changing and what we are doing to make the transition as smooth as possible.”
Tesco is anticipating a 70% drop in the use of plastic bags in its stores. It will be offering a limited number of free bags for life during the week before. Proceeds from the 5p charge will be donated to various charities, with customers due to be asked to vote on which 2,500 projects will benefit from the proceeds of the scheme every year.
Sainsburys has decided to introduce a thicker 100% recycled reusable bag which it will sell for 5p in its stores, removing all of the thinner, single-use bags. All proceeds will be donated to various charities. The retailer has already introduced the same policy in Scotland and Wales, raising £52m for charity in the past year.
Morrisons is using the proceeds from the 5p charge to support the Morrisons Foundation. The foundation awards grants to registered charities across the UK.
All Poundland stores in the UK will charge 5p per single use carrier bag with all proceeds from the charge being donated ato Macmillan Cancer Support – the company’s charity partner.
SpaceNK currently uses paper bags with a cotton handle, whilst these are subject to the mandatory charge in Scotland, and the Republic of Ireland, these bags will remain free of charge for consumers in England.
Marks and Spencer
M&S has been charging 5p for carrier bags in its food department since 2008. It donates proceeds to the World Wildlife Fund and the Marine Conservation Society. The policy will now be extended to the rest of the store, with plastic bag use in its food halls already reduced by 75% since 2007.
Even though the new rule doesn’t apply to retailers with fewer than 250 employees, some independent stores may choose to implement the charge any way. Spar, Londis, Budgens, Landmark Costcutter and One Stop have all advised their stores to implement the charge and The Association of Convenience Stores said that 16% of its independent members were planning to introduce the 5p charge.