Single-use Carrier Bag Charge – England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland
Andrew Crook - NFFF President
May 20, 2021


Retailers of any size (large, medium, small, micro and airport retailers) must charge a minimum of 10 pence for single-use carrier bags in England from 21 May 2021. You could be fined if you do not charge.

Work out if you’re a large retailer

You need to work out how many full-time equivalent employees you have at the start of each reporting year.

The reporting year runs from 7 April each year to 6 April in the following year.

Work out your number of employees

On the first day of the reporting year calculate how many full-time equivalent employees you have:

  1. Work out how many hours a full-time employee would work in a year (for example 40 hours by 52 weeks is 2,080).
  2. Multiply this by the amount of full-time workers there for the full year (for example 200 workers by 2,080 is 416,000).
  3. Work out part-time and seasonal workers’ hours by multiplying their weekly hours by the weeks worked (for example 100 workers by 20 hours by 10 weeks, added to 100 workers by 40 hours by  25 weeks is 20,00 plus 100,000, giving 120,000).
  4. Add the full-time and part-time or seasonal workers’ hours together (for example 416,000 plus 120,000 is 536,000).
  5. Divide this by the amount of hours a full-time employee would work in a year (for example 536,000 divided by 2,080 is 257.7).

If this number is 250 or more, you must record and report the number of single-use carrier bags you sell each year.

Records you must keep and submit

Large retailers (with over 250 employees) must keep a reporting year’s records for 3 years from 31 May in the following reporting year. For example, you must keep your records for 5 October 2020 to 6 April 2021 until 31 May 2024.

You can be fined if you do not keep records.

You’ll also need to consider HM Revenue and Customs guidance on VAT.

You must record for the whole reporting year:

  • the number of single-use carrier bags you supplied
  • the gross and net proceeds of the charge
  • any VAT in the gross proceeds
  • what you did with the proceeds from the charge
  • any reasonable costs and how they break down

Donating the proceeds

Once you’ve deducted reasonable costs, it’s expected that you’ll donate all proceeds to good causes, particularly environmental causes.

For more click here


By law, all retailers in Scotland must charge a minimum of 10p for each new single-use carrier bag.

The law came into effect on 20 October 2014 and the aim is to encourage bag re-use and reduce the amount of litter in Scotland.

The charge applies to all single-use bags, including those made of:

  • paper
  • plastic
  • some plant-based materials

Changes during coronavirus

Because of coronavirus (COVID-19), the 10p carrier bag charge has been removed for certain types of delivery and collection until 31 May 2021.

Retailers do not have to charge for a carrier bag if they’re being used for:

  • grocery deliveries to your home (no matter how you placed the order)
  • collecting groceries you ordered ahead of time (such as ‘click and collect’ services in supermarkets)
  • collection and delivery of takeaway food

This change does not mean that retailers have to give you a carrier bag for free in these situations. Retailers are still allowed to charge for carrier bags if they want to.

For more click here

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland fish and chip shops are not required to charge for a carrier bag if the bag contains hot food intended for consumption away from the premises on which they are sold.

If you supply cold food only in the carrier bag, the levy should be applied at a charge of at least 5 pence and monies forwarded to the department.  Businesses need to contact us to register if this is the case. 

For more click here


Since 1st October 2011, all businesses are required to charge a minimum of 5p for every single-use carrier bag given to customers.

What bags do I charge for?

All types of single use carrier bags are included in the charge.

This includes:

  • paper
  • plastic
  • part plastic
  • recycled and
  • degradable plastic

For more click here

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