Five pence levy on plastic bags starts today aiming to reduce usage by 80pc

 
Madeline Ratcliffe
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The tax does not apply in airports (Source: Getty)
It is time to dig out those “For Life” bags – from today you will be charged 5p for plastic bags in shops.

Any shop or chain with more than 250 employees using thin “single use” plastic bags will have to charge, including home deliveries.

The government hopes the measure will lead to an 80 per cent reduction in plastic bag use in supermarkets, and a 50 per cent fall on the high street, but the TaxPayers’ Alliance has said it is little more than “a shopping tax,” which will cost taxpayers £1.5bn over the next decade, or £67 per household.

The money raised does not go to the government but to the shops themselves, which are expected, but not obliged, to donate the money to good causes, and the government will publish details each year.

The rest of the UK outside England already has a plastic bag charge, and the Scottish government said plastic bag usage plummeted 80 per cent after the 5p tax was introduced.

The tax does not apply in airports, or if you are only carrying an unwrapped blade, from a razor to an axe; live fish; prescriptions; uncooked meat; or ready-to-eat foods, such as fish and chips in the bag.

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