skip to content
My Green Pod Logo

Scotland charges for carrier bags


A minimum charge of 5p per bag has been introduced in Scotland today in a bid to reduce carrier bag use.

The move was announced in June following a public consultation in 2013, and received overwhelming backing from MSPs in a vote earlier this year.

Pharrell Williams: RAW for he Oceans – ‘Happy’ singer is turning the tide, ‘one piece of denim at a time’

The numbers

The According to WRAP, around 28 million tonnes of household waste is generated in the UK every year, of which 4.9 million tonnes is packaging and 7.0 million tonnes is food waste.

Carrier bags represent less than 1% of household waste but they contribute to visible litter and are viewed by many as a symbol of a ‘throwaway society’.

Wales and Northern Ireland

All retailers in Wales have been applying a 5p charge for single-use carrier bags since October 2011, with all money raised used to support good causes – particularly environmental projects – in Wales.

Northern Ireland introduced a levy on single-use bags in April 2013; retailers now charge at least 5p for each single-use bag they provide to customers, and the revenue goes to the Department of the Environment (DOE).


Richard Lochead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, said, ‘750 million bags are used in Scotland each year – the highest number in the UK – and we need to reduce this if we are to improve our environment. They are a highly visible aspect of litter and blight our country.’

‘The purpose of the charge is to encourage shoppers to think about reusing bags to prevent litter and combat the throwaway culture that Scotland has. It has been successful in other countries where a similar charge has been implemented and I want to see a similar reaction in Scotland.

‘It is now time for a national effort to cut the impact of carrier bags in Scotland. Many people already use bags for life allowing them to re-use and recycle and this levy will make others stop and think about if they can do the same.’

Richard Lochead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment

Retailers will be required to charge at least 5p for single-use bags. This is not a tax – retailers would be expected to donate net proceeds to good causes. The charge will apply to single use bags of any material, not just plastic.

Here's more related content

Sorry we don't have any suggested related content at the moment. Please check back later.

Join The Conversation

Leave a Reply

Here's More Ethical News News & Features

  • All
  • Amazon
  • Fairtrade
  • SDGs
  • Spirits
  • USA
  • activism
  • activists
  • banking
  • banks
  • beach clean
  • beauty
  • biodiversity
  • business
  • circular economy
  • climate action
  • climate change
  • climate emergency
  • climate justice
  • community
  • conflict
  • consumption
  • deforestation
  • diet
  • drinks
  • ecocide
  • economics
  • economy
  • education
  • environment
  • equality
  • ethical business
  • events
  • exhibition
  • farmers
  • farming
  • fires
  • food
  • fossil fuels
  • health
  • helath
  • homes
  • housing
  • human rights
  • indigenous
  • investment
  • investments
  • justice
  • law
  • leadership
  • legal
  • lifestyle
  • mental health
  • money
  • net zero
  • oceans
  • organic
  • packaging
  • peace
  • pension
  • plastic
  • plastic pollution
  • policy
  • politics
  • pollution
  • resources
  • rivers
  • schools
  • scotland
  • skincare
  • society
  • trees
  • war
  • waste
  • water
  • wellbeing
  • women
  • work