The 5p plastic bag charge in England

Plastic bags. The end. From the 5th of October, plastic bags in the UK now cost 5 pence. For those of you who do not live in the UK, 5 pence is the equivalent to $15 US dollars. Yup. Ok, not really but pretty darn close. The plastic bag charge applies only to stores with 250 or more full-time employees-like supermarkets. It is important to note that plastic bags at airport shops, on board trains, planes and ships will NOT be included in the current charge. And that goes for paper bags too. Yeah.

Last year,7.6 BILLION bags were given out in English supermarkets, for free.  The government hopes that the charge will cut down on waste and litter. That means ‘trash.’ It is interesting to note that in 2011, Wales started charging 5 pence per bag and use by customers dropped by 71%.  Also, Scotland and Northern Ireland introduced charges in 2014 and 2013 respectively and saw a significant drop in usage of plastic bags.  We use way too many plastic bags here in the England.   Plastic bags blight our streets, countryside, rivers, lake and coastline. So now there is a charge to dissuade you from purchasing plastic bags with the new 5p charge.  This will hopefully encourage you to re use your plastic bags.

Luckily, the plastic bag charge does not apply to:

  • live aquatic creatures in water, like SeaMonkeys
  • unwrapped blades-like razor blades and axes
  • uncooked meat and poultry

I have a lot of plastic bags. And if you are anything like me (and I am guessing you are) your plastic bags HAVE plastic bags stuffed inside of them.  You also have a drawer full of plastic bags, in various sizes and colours. And of course you save your ‘good’ plastic bags. You know the ones you get from Harrods, Selfridges and Banana Republic.

So, when you visit England, make sure you bring plenty of 5p’s.  You will need them.

Cheers Y’all




  1. Yvonne · October 9, 2015

    Do you have a couple of reusable bags to take when you go shopping, made of cloth or something similar?

    • samdfb1 · October 9, 2015

      I do! I should have mentioned it. Actually, I mostly use cloth bags Yvonne. And when I get my sewing machine for Christmas….I hope to make some more!

  2. Yvonne · October 9, 2015

    Good on ya!

  3. Phil Taylor · October 9, 2015

    Can I bring my own plastic bags into the country? Will they get through customs? Could I start an underground black market selling plastic bags for 3p?

    • samdfb1 · October 9, 2015

      Hah! Well you could try-both that is. But get this Phil: someone in the UK was actually selling plastic bags on ebay! People will always try to make money in a crisis. Sheesh.

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