What is the Bag Charge?

The Scottish Government introduced a 5p charge for all single use carrier bags on 20 October 2014 in an attempt to tackle litter and its environmental impacts by reducing the number of carrier bags being used. The introduction follows the successful implementation of similar legislation in Wales and Northern Ireland.  Legislation was introduced in England in 2015.

A single use carrier bag is provided by a retailer to help a customer take purchases away from the shop and can be made from a variety of materials including plastic, paper, natural starch or plant based material.  It is not intended for multiple reuse.  The bag charge also applies to online shopping from Scottish retailers.


Why was the charge introduced?

The Scottish Government believed that the introduction of a 5p charge for single use carrier bags would significantly reduce the number being used and tackle the litter that blights our landscape and communities.  And, in the first year major grocery retailers indicated that there had been an 80% reduction in bag use.  More information on why the bag charge was introduced can be found on the Zero Waste Scotland Website.


What retailers are required to charge?

All retailers regardless of type or size are required to charge a minimum of 5p for a single use carrier bag.


What type of bags are affected by the charge?

Single use carrier bags made from materials including plastic, paper, plant based material or natural starch and not intended for multiple reuse are subject to the charge. So, whatever the single use bag is made of it is subject to a 5p charge.


Are there any exemptions?

There are a limited number of exemptions from the bag charge. Further details can be found on the Zero Waste Scotland Website.


What happens to the proceeds?

The net proceeds of the bag charge belong to the retailer. The Scottish Government is keen to see the money generated by the bag charge distributed by retailers to charitable good causes, particularly those focused on tackling litter and its environmental impacts.

If you are a retailer, we can support you to make a difference to Scotland's environment.  Contact us at donate@keepscotlandbeautiful.org


Keep Updated

Get our news delivered straight to your inbox
Your personal information and right to privacy is important to us. It is not our practice to sell, rent or otherwise to disclose your personal information to others. Read our Privacy Notice

Keep Connected

We support the