Briefing: 10p plastic bag charge in England


  • In England, there has been a charge of 5p for a single use carrier bag (SUCB) since October 2015. This applies only to large retailers with more than 250 employees. From 21 May 2021, this charge will be increased to 10p and apply to all retailers in England.

  • The Cameron government previously declined to extend the charge to small retailers, citing concern about the administrative burden that it would place on them.

  • The assumptions used by the May government in its impact assessment of the proposed 10p charge have not adequately considered changed consumer behaviour because of the covid-19 pandemic, such as greater use of internet shopping and fewer purchases of SUCBs.

  • Between 2021 and 2030, the 10p plastic bag charge in England is forecast to cost consumers £1.03 billion. This includes the 10p charge for each SUCB, VAT on the charge, purchase of bags for life and bin liners, and hidden costs such as increased paper bag usage.



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