Consultation on Single-use Carrier Bag Charge

Defra is inviting stakeholders' views on its plans to extend the Single-use Carrier Bag Charge in England to all retailers and increase the minimum charge to 10 p.  These proposed changes would apply from January 2020 and aim to build on the success of the existing Single Use Carrier Bags charge in reducing plastic bags in the environment and their negative impacts.

The government's 25 Year Environment Plan, published on 11 January 2018, outlined steps that will be taken to improve the environment, including new measures to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste.  It included a commitment to extend the single use carrier bag charge to all retailers on a mandatory basis if voluntary approaches were deemed ineffective.  In August 2018 the Prime Minister announced plans to consult on a mandatory extension and on possibly increasing the charge to at least 10 p.

Defra wants to know:

  • whether stakeholders agree with its assessment of the costs and benefits of its proposals,
  • how their effects should be measured, and
  • what stakeholders think about its plans to amend the exemption that applies to bags supplied at security restricted areas of airports.

Defra's proposal to require producers of single use carrier bags to report volumes they place on the market would also apply to Scottish and Welsh producers.

The consultation will close on at midnight on 22 February 2019.  Click HERE for more info. 

Defra's consultation document makes no reference to industrially compostable or home compostable carrier bags, yet we should consider whether there is justification for a lower charge per industrial/home compostable bag so they can become more financially competitive with non-compostable plastic carrier bags.  (The costs of production and independent certification of carrier bag conformance with compostability standards puts compostable ones at a disadvantage, the key effect being plastic bag contamination in organic waste sent for composting and significant costs incurred by the composting sector in attempt to remove them all.)  Defra's consultation document says only this: 'The government has also committed support for research and development of biodegradable plastics through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, including the development of biodegradable plastic packaging and bags.' 

REA members are welcome to contact Emily Nichols (, 07771556231) to feed back on or discuss the issues.

Webpage published: 03/01/2019
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