When Not to Charge for Plastic Bags

Plastic Carrier Bag

The whole of UK now follows a law where companies are required to charge customers for plastic carrier bags when they make a purchase from retailers. The idea behind this is to protect wildlife by reducing plastic littering. However, this law is does not apply for all polystyrene plastic. There are some confusions, and there are exemptions to this law.

In general, any retailer with more than 250 employees must charge a minimum 5p for plastic bags. They are also required to keep records and are encouraged to donate the amount raised to different local causes.

It is compulsory for all store owners to follow the law, but adding this new charge to customers is not deemed ideal by some business owners. They are now finding novel ways to eliminate this charge and retain loyal customers. One of the ways they are doing this is by giving bags without handles.  However this type of bag does not suit all purchases so not all retailers can do this.

There are various other conditions which relieve customers from having to pay this fee.  Below is a list showing the type of packets which can be provided without a fee.

Plastic Bags for Carrying Un-packaged Goods

Any size carrier bags that are used to carry exempt items such as un-packaged food items, loose seeds and specific medical products can be given away for free.  If the bag contains loose food bought for human or animal consumption such as fruits and vegetables, dry animal food, fish, poultry, red meat, etc. you do not have to charge for it. The list includes packets for grass seeds, root ginger or daffodil bulbs. If any item like potted plants and fishing baits is contaminated by soil, the same rule applies.

When you sell a knife, knife blade, axe, razor blades without proper packaging, you cannot ask customers to pay for the carrier bag. They will also be relieved of such charges when they buy certain medicinal items.

As the seller, you are responsible for providing packets of suitable size. The exemption rule applies only if the bag contains one or more of the aforementioned items.

No Fees for Small Bags

Customers do not have to worry about paying for packs that are smaller than 175mm x 260mm and do not have handles. Bags like this are usually used to give simple products like greeting cards, pick-and-mix confectionery and non-prescription medicines. Some retailers hand out small hardware items like screws or buttons in these packets.

The List Includes some Specialist Bags

Courier delivery bags or mail-order dispatch packets can be handed out for free. When you get a bag for transporting live aquatic creatures like pet fishes or turtles, the bag is free as well. The list also includes liners that are used to cover crates, boxes, etc.

Carrier Bags Provided at the Airport, Plane or Other Vehicles

You are not obligated to charge for single use bags provided at airports or on board vehicles, like airplanes, ships, trains, and buses. Duty free shops and other retail stores at the airport can avoid asking customers to pay a carrier bag fee.