CARRIER BAG CHARGES EXEMPT UNWRAPPED AND PARTIALLY WRAPPED READY TO EAT FOOD
The Single Use Carrier Bag (England) Order 2015
Legislation, guidance and answers to some questions
The Order was approved in draft order by both Houses and comes into force on 5 October.
A number of issues have been raised by members and these have been discussed with DEFRA.
Although it was announced as far back as October 2013 that only plastic bags would apply under the the Order so single use paper bags are exempt and plastic bags less than 70 microns will be charged.
You may also advise your customers that the charge only applies to bags with a handle. DEFRA has confirmed “a bag without handles does not require a charge.”
Please note although many retailers use paper the principle of a charge is something to which we object. Some organisations would like other foodservice items to be charged and / or a charge on foodservice operators which we successfully challenged in the Communities and Local Government Select Inquiry into Litter. We will. of course, challenge any such proposals irrespective of material.
Partly unwrapped food for human consumption is excluded. Is there an argument to say most foodservice items prepared on the premises are not fully wrapped? DEFRA has sidestepped the issue saying this will be down to enforcement officers to interpret. The inclusion of a fully sealed item in the bag such as a drinks can or beverage carton makes the bag chargeable even if it also contains unwrapped food.
Businesses employing less than 250 full time equivalent employees do not need to make the charge. Part time employees are assessed as a fraction based on weekly hours divided by 37.5. Only contracted employees are included. A business is defined as the organisation that pays the employee. In the foodservice context this means the franchisee and the total number of employees employed by the franchisee across all the stores operated by them as part of a franchise. It only applies to the franchisor for any stores they may own.
BAGS PURCHASED PRIOR TO 5 OCTOBER
The charge applies to new bags even if the retailer has purchased them prior to 5 October.
DELIVERY / TRANSIT BAGS
Bags used in the making deliveries to stores are charged just as they are for retailers making home deliveries.
A review of standards for biodegradability of lightweight plastics is to be completed by 5 October and reported to Parliament shortly after. Even in the event this results in an exemption it may be a few months before the legislation is amended. Therefore as of 5 October the charge applies to bio and non bio bags.
This is 5p as a minimum on bags not more than 70 microns. Some members have mentioned a higher figure has been proposed but the figure is a minimum and retailers are free to charge more should they wish.
This will be by Local Authorities’ Trading Standards Officers. DEFRA is issuing guidance to TSO’s and we have asked to be kept fully informed as the guidance is developed as this may open a small opportunity.
We have an excellent relationship with DEFRA so please advise any issues you and your customers may have and we will endeavour to find answers.