BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 05 October '15

Why small businesses should adopt the 5p charge for carrier bags

From today (05 October 2015) it will be compulsory across the UK for businesses to charge a minimum of 5p per single-use carrier bag.

Scotland charges for carrier bags – minimum 5p charge for single-use bags

Impact of 5p charge

Similar charges in Ireland, Wales and Switzerland have led to an 80% reduction in the number of carrier bags issued.

However, unlike in Scotland and Wales – where the charge is compulsory for all businesses – in England those who employ less than 250 staff will be exempt from charging for single-use plastic bags.

Last year, over seven billion carrier bags were issued by supermarkets in England. Many ended up in landfill or scattered around our streets and rivers, killing wildlife and costing taxpayers millions of pounds to clean up.

Customer attitudes

According to a survey conducted by Make It Cheaper, most people are receptive to the idea of small businesses charging for single-use plastic bags in England.

When asked how the charge would alter their perception of a small business, 58% stated that it would have either a positive impact or no impact. A further 61% said that a plastic bag charge would not deter them from using a business.

Over half the consumers surveyed were happy to pay for a bag, with the majority stating that 5p is a fair price for a single-use carrier bag.

Two-thirds believed that the plastic bag charge will have a direct positive impact on the environment.

Benefits to small business

Businesses that opt in to the plastic bag scheme within the first year of it coming into effect will be able to deduct more ‘reasonable costs’, such as the cost of training staff and altering till software.

‘It’s a great idea for small business owners to become early adopters of the plastic bag charge. Not only did the survey show that the majority of consumers are actually in favour of the charge, but it’s also a great way to distinguish your business from your competitors.

‘The Government has also announced that businesses joining in the first year can cover overheads in order to become compliant with the law. So it’s better for small businesses to act early and reap the benefits, because we will see the number of these reasonable costs reduce after the first year.’

Nick Heath, business savings expert at Make It Cheaper

Click here for more information on the plastic bag charge and the positive benefits that it can offer small business owners.