please empty your brain below

Perhaps the supermarkets should just give away promotional grains of rice at the tills, each grain in its own plastic bag.
A good idea in principle but when it is set at 5p it is more likely to become a minor annoyance rather than changing behaviour.
When the charge was introduced in Ireland it was set at 15c and was subsequently increased to 22c. That's high enough to make a change.
In my opinion, carrying a carrier bag with you as a pedestrian isn't a big deal in the context of everything else one might carry. Many compact bags are available.
As a reusable bag user myself, I am looking forward to not having to argue with staff in the store who insist on my taking a bag/ignore my requests to the contrary/remove the item from the bag and throw the bag in the bin.
As a pedestrian who generally carries nothing apart from what fits in my trouser pockets, carrying a carrier bag everywhere would be a big deal.
Don't forget that somebody somewhere in a plastic bag factory is probably losing their job.
I was in Clas Ohlson yesterday and they had reusable shopping bags that folded to the size of a wallet.
Shame that "they", the great powers that be, could not also get round to enforcing all supermarkets and suppliers to have the "traffic light" food label system on all food/drink products. Instead we have a "mis-mash" of labels yet nearly everyone finds Green=o.k Yellow=caution Red=bad simple to understand.
I would sooner that supermarkets et al continued to give free bags but cut out probably ten times as much waste by using sensible packaging for the goods inside the bags. Then we win three times over: less packaging to dispose of, less carrier bags to use in the first place and no charge for those bags.
I'm back and forth to Scotland fairly often. My experience there is (1) most supermarkets have removed all bags from self service tills, and you need to get hold of a staff member to bring one to you if you want to buy one and (2) virtually everyone is arriving at stores with old bags in their pockets, so I see surprisingly few people pay for bags.
Back to England. There are a few signs in shops I use, but I suspect most customers haven't read them and are going to get a rude shock when this comes in next month.
Just think of it in terms of all the crap we buy that we don't really need, then 5p isn't really a big deal, anyway look at all the money I've saved now that I no longer buy newspapers (between 8 and 50 plastic bags per day depending on paper), plus CDs and DVDs thanks to streaming services - and I'm one of those people that doesn't have the need to buy coffee from tax efficient retail outlets (at a cost of around 29 - 60 plastic bags per cup).
As a keen walker in London who has managed to get his necessities down to one contactless debit card and one small key (no phone, no wallet, no watch) I can assure you that I will not be carrying any bags around with me. However, I reckon I use substantially fewer than 100 bags per year, so won't particularly mind a few quid going to a charity of someone else's choosing.
In France you cannot get the flimsy bags British stores hand out in most supermarkets even if you want to pay for them. You can only buy a proper reuseable bag.

I believe that accounts for why in the more upmarket areas of London you are more likely to see someone with a Leclerc / Intermarche / SuperU reuseable bag than a Sainsburys one.
WHSmith and M&S at least have been charging for bags for some time, on the self scan machines you are asked which bag you used and it's just down to honesty(but then it's probably quite easy to shoplift goods anyway via self scan unless the staff are watching closely).
As a frequent visitor to Wales I'm used to keeping a stock of reusable carrier bags in the back of the car so it won't come as a shock.

However, my response is still "oh b***er" because now what do I use inside my waste bins. My single use carrier bags always had a second use - now what do I do? The penny pincher inside of me objects to buying bin liners.
re-using bags, of whatever material, is pretty unhygenic - have a look at the kack that collects in them.

best are string bags, which don't fill with shmuck.
I suppose there'll be no concessions for over-sized items that don't fit into a normal sized bag as so often happens to me in places like Wilko!

I would have preferred it if, (like we did with Corona bottles) we could take the old plastic bags back to customer service for recycling and get, say a 3p refund on each one!
Better chances of proper recycling, and still money raised for charity! Win-Win!
It will annoy me when going shopping for clothes, shoes, or other general supplies.

If anything I'll now be taking the car more often so I can carry a stash of bags with me.
The reusable plastic bags (for life) which cost about 10p now fold up quite small, whereas the single-use bags merely scrunch up into an inconvenient ball. I think I would be more likely to stretch to 10p for a semi-decent bag (do they still replace them for free when they break?) than 5p for a crappy bag. They hold more too.
How much do they charge when you put stuff in the bags, and that new razor, say, in the plastic blister pack with the razor sharp edge slices through the flimsy bag and you have to rebag it all. Or the side seam splits on the Tesco value carrier? Or the handle turns out to be deformed as so often seems to happen and to double bag?
In Scotland when I was there in August they only had bags that were like smaller versions of the bags for life that you get know. If gladly pay 5p for something that's not gonna split open on the way home.

I'm guessing most clothes shops will switch to paper bags to get around this, most upmarket ones seem to use paper already anyway.
About time too.

This is where I can unequivocally say that I'm proud to live in Ireland, which was the first country in the world to introduce a plastic bag tax in 2002. To quote W*k*pedia:

"One noticeable success in Ireland's environmental track record was the introduction of a plastic bag levy in 2002, the first country in the world to do so. All consumers were required to pay 15c for a plastic bag; this led to an immediate decrease of over 90% in the amount of plastic bags in circulation. From 328 bags per inhabitant per year when the levy was introduced, usage fell to 21 bags per capita.

The levy encouraged retailers to switch to paper bags, and encouraged consumers to bring their own bags when shopping. The National Litter Pollution Monitoring System showed that when the levy was introduced, 5% of all litter was plastic bags. The 2006 figure is 0.5%. Media coverage also helped raise awareness about the damage plastic bags do to the environment."

Two further points:

Once you get into the habit, it's not difficult to remember to bring your own bags to the supermarket. Everyone in Ireland does it. DG -- you'll have to learn!

The UK multinationals who have branches over here (such as Debenhams and M&S) supply free paper carrier bags to customers. There is no reason at all why they couldn't do so in the future to their English customers, so if they say they can't, cite the fact that they supply them in Ireland.

Plastic bags are one of the worst causes of environmental pollution and it is going to take centuries to clear up the damage caused by us over the last 50 years. Anything we can do to limit their spread should be welcomed whole-heartedly.
What ever happened to bio-degradable bags? Did they cost too much to produce?
If they can make paper carrier bags work in (wet) Ireland they'll work over here.

BTW - am I the only one old enough to remember paper carrier bags in the UK?
@Grumpy: at the "details for consumers" link, it's suggested that biodegradable bags could cost too much to separate out from the others in the recycling. Review is ongoing, they say.
I've been taking lots of extra bags in the past few months to use for my rubbish bins.
"What ever happened to bio-degradable bags?"

They all rotted away.

Indeed they often started disintegrating before you got them home.
Of course bag usage has been rising, people like me who used to refuse or re-use bags a few times before using them as bin liners have been squirrelling away as many as possible over the last few years.

The new system is irksome, as I didn't waste bags anyway
.. having a quiet laugh at all the blokes who can get away with 'pockets'. With most of the pants / skirts they make for women this is impossible. Either they have no pockets, or small pockets or pockets that are fixed at such an angle that things fall out. Not to mention that there is rarely anywhere to stash a packet of tampons or a couple of pads / liners. And I am I the only one with a whacking great bunch of keys that includes house keys and work keys as well as my PO Box key? And how do they fit whacking great smart phones in pockets?

Maybe we will see the rise of the man bag in England's Green and Pleasant Land as the blokes start to carry bags to carry bags!

"I'm guessing most clothes shops will switch to paper bags to get around this, most upmarket ones seem to use paper already anyway."

Even some of the not-so-upmarket ones (e.g. Primark) already do!
... another thought... when I was in Scotland recently I came across this. I'm used to it in parts of Oz where bags cost 5 or 10c in supermarkets or other places that sell food.

However, I was surprised to find that clothes shops / craft shops adhered to the policy. I did buy a bag and popped 5p in a tin to save the local kittens (honestly) ... but what made me laugh was that at this place and everywhere else I went the locals all stipulated that ENGLAND MADE US DO IT, or IT COMES FROM DOWN SOUTH (on one occasion I heard IT COMES FROM DOWN THERE, making me think that I'd wandered into an episode of Embarrassing Bodies but without the Dr Christian eye-candy) ... need I say that this was just after the independence vote?
I wholeheartedly agree with this step, being a long-time user of reusable bags. However one effect of this will be that many small charity shops will not have bags to give to their customers. At the moment I save all mine for my local shop, which is already starting to run short. Hopefully the 'bring a bag' ethos will start to permeate right through, eventually.
I put on a coat that I hadn't worn for a year, and found that a bag had biodegraded in its pocket into thousands of tiny flakes. The resulting mess was indescribable.

Not sure what this proves.
Had this in Ireland for years and it has had the intended environmental impact in that you no longer see discarded plastic bags everywhere.

The downside is that many retailers, including two or the largest over here, will no longer stock the old style plastic bags and will now charge you at least 70c for their branded 'reusable' bag. So your 99c shop is now a €1.69 shop!
In answer to Antipodean's question about pockets, even though my (male) pockets are reasonably big, they cannot possibly contain everything I want to carry about with me. A man bag was hopeless, I kept leaving it behind. So two all-day bum bags is my solution.
small print: "while the existing UK schemes apply to all retailers, the English version will not include small shops. It will also differ from others by excluding paper bags.

The Government says it would be costly and unfair to force the charge onto retailers employing fewer than 250 staff but many small shops actually want to be included."

Apparently some small retailers say they are going to join the scheme anyway - doesn't that give them the opportunity of just pocketing the 5p and not paying it to the government ? ker-ching !
If taxing plastic bags means we'll no longer see discarded plastic bags, maybe they could apply an extra tax to cans of Fosters?
@ Will - we don't actually drink that disgusting stuff in Australia, but at least one state has introduced a 5c surcharge on all drink cans. This was Big Bikkies in the 70s, when it happened (we used to collect cans and bottles and return them for enough cents to buy some decent mixed sweets and ice-creams) ... less so now, But you rarely see discarded cans anyway.
Presumably this will mean the end of Tesco's one Clubcard point for each re-used bag. They've already announced that the Clubcard scheme is to be severely downgraded for their credit card users.

Similarly, Sainsbury's have already stopped giving Nectar points for bag re-use, as well as halving the number of points given on purchases. Even Air Miles has been replaced by the utterly useless Avios scheme, so supermarket freebies are effectively a thing of the past. I'm just glad that I made it to Australia with Air Miles - twice !

Of course, in reality there's no such thing as a free lunch, you pay for the freebies via the high prices. It wouldn't be so bad if they reduced their prices to Lidl levels, but I won't be holding my breath !
I do point out that the discount supermarkets (Lidl & Aldi) already charge for every bag and people seem willing to pay rather than bring. This goes back to the days of Kwicksave except that back then people argued.

I recall handing over two I was reusing to someone holding up the queue, saying "with the compliments of Lord Sainsbury".

But (except in Scotland no doubt) many don't care. I have rescued half a dozen 'bags for life' from my block's paper recycling bin, emptying them of papers. The bin is clearly marked "no plastic bags" of course so I am not even technically stealing them from the council.
the locals all stipulated that ENGLAND MADE US DO IT, or IT COMES FROM DOWN SOUTH

I am surprised that the Irish didn't say the same since it is "well known" that everything wrong in Ireland is the fault of the Brits (except the Irish Constitution). Are they slipping ?
Gerry, I wouldn't say avios is completely useless, it's rubbish for long haul with ba but there are bargains to be had. I've personally collected enough tesco clubcard points this quarter for 2 return flights with British airways to Europe for £35 return each time. They're also good for internal flights in the US.

Having said that, nectar is virtually worthless these days. Spend £1000 in sainsburys for £5 back. No thank you.
I don't understand why paper isn't included. It may be better at biodegrading, but the manufacturing process is more environmentally unfriendly than it is for plastic. With the added fact that plastic bags tend to get more uses out of them.
@ Lumma

Yes, having always religiously re-used three bags even on just three items, I must admit flying to Zurich recently with Avios at a return cost of £41.60 (because only Club class was available coming back). Club is largely a waste of time because about the only advantage on board is an empty middle seat, but it did give access to an airport lounge which was moderately interesting.

However, I'd overlooked internal US flights. Many thanks - it might be useful for the 2017 solar total eclipse ! :-)

But I suspect that the sun will have set on re-used bag points long before then, just as it has on free bags...
my cats are always pleased when I bring home paper bags for them to play in/sit on/shred. so they'll be even happier soon.
If the rules are the same as in Wales, be ready for a few surprises. A few years ago I bought my wife some Tom Ford perfume at a department store in Cardiff. It cost about 100 pounds. I then had to pay an extra 5p for the little Tom Ford presentation bag that went with it!
For a couple years we've had a 5 cent bag tax here in Montgomery County, Maryland, USA. It all goes to the county. Plastic bag use has dropped by 80%. Goodness knows how the money is spent.

At Tesco this evening they were handing out large, free and reasonably durable plastic bags with real -shaped handles and the slogan "You save another 5p every time you take me to the shops".

However, the most interesting text was well hidden on the inside of the 'turn-up' at the bottom the bag: "If this bag breaks we will replace it FREE of charge".
Fascinated that this issue has attracted such a huge number of comments.

It's a bit of a sad indictment on us all - 5p is more important than protecting the planet for our children and beyond. Or perhaps its success in Wales is just a matter of shaming people?
I use the plastic bags as bin bags. I believe in Wales there was a big increase in the sale of plastic bin bags since the charge was introduced.
I said ages ago that they're looking through the wrong end of the microscope, when you consider people walking along Oxford St with their designer label bags [that are far less a 'necessity' than supermarket bags that are for carrying the shopping that everyone needs] :(
As a reader above says, there's far more unnecessary use of plastics et al inside carrier bags than there is in the bag itself. And if anyone has seriously investigated the full equation of energy/thermodynamics in the whole bag question (as I have to) they'd have discovered it makes precious little difference to the world, compared to putting similar efforts elsewhere. And should someone not be asking the question that if bags are so awful, why are we not banning them altogether rather than just asking people to stump up a charge? If use falls by 80% that's still 20% in the environment. No, just remember this is a lot of spin by environmentalists and the now vanished Liberals.
Regarding the last two posts. Yes you need bags a lot more for supermarket trips, but it is easier to reuse here, I don't want to put clothes in a bag I used for carrots and cheese. But I will use that bag again for groceries next week.

I've also noticed unessecery packing a lot less prevalent on food than it was 10 years ago. Mr Kipling cakes now only have a small amount of cardboard around the plastic tray, instead of tray, film and box. Many breakfast cereals only come in a bag, without a box. It seems to be non-food like toys where over packaging is still an issue.
I can remember the time before ubiquitous plastic bags. We managed. So can today's moaning minnies.

Two words: string bags.
When I worked on the checkouts in Sainsbury's as a sixth former THIRTY (god, that's a shock)years ago, there were no free flimsy carrier bags. A substantial plastic carrier cost 3 1/2p and a larger paper one, 4 1/2p. Heaven knows what that would be now adjusted for inflation, but I don't remember anyone ever complaining. It was taken for granted that if you wanted something, you paid for it. My big challenge was persuading people that the more rigid and easier to pack paper bags were as strong as (in fact stronger than) the plastic ones.
@ Malcolm

It proves what it suppose to... that it does as it says.
And yes, of course we will now buy more binliners, just as we used to before ubiquitous free carriers. (And the smaller ones may well cost less than 5p each.) So we will pay for what we use, just like we always used to. With the added advantage that binliners are made for the job and don't have holes in. If it means we also think twice about how many binliners we get through... maybe turn our minds to composting/recycling more... then that's an added bonus.
... I have a bin specially designed for supermarket bags. None of mine ever get thrown away, except when full of rubbish.

I wonder what the ratio of plastic bags to plastic drink bottles discarded is?
How do you design a bin especially for bags ?

I would like the supermarkets to be banned from asking me if I need any help packing my one item. They might as well be saying "are you capable of putting that in a bag".
It is exactly the right size (designed as such) and the handles hook over. I bought it many years ago, especially. It has followed me through five different houses and I have even patched a small crack in the base with silicone.
.. in fact if you do a Google search you will see a few options for the general concept.
Oh, I thought you meant a bin for storing bags in !

One of the banks I use has just decided to give 5% cashback on contactless payments, so they will be paying for my bags as long as I get at least 95p worth of goods in each one !
According to HMRC, any amount charged for a bag is tax inclusive at the standard rate of VAT. For example, where a VAT registered business charges 5 pence, the taxable amount will be 4.17 pence and the VAT 0.83 pence. So the government will be getting a portion of the money.
81 comments on shopping bags..

get lives people
61 !! comments on shopping bags..

get glasses IsarSteve
I don't see the issue with carrying a reusable bag. I've done this for years and years with "Bags for Life" which get replaced free when they wear out / split.

I was "told off" by a Sainsburys' employee for using bags from another supermarket. It took a lot of patience not to give the member of staff a "piece of my mind".

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