The Prime Minister Theresa May recently made a speech laying out her environmental plans for the next couple of years.
The plan extends over a 25 year period to the ultimate aim of getting rid of all ‘avoidable’ plastic.
Among her proposals, is the plan to extend the law on plastic bag charges to smaller retailers. At the moment the 5p charge only applies to retailers who have more than 250 employees.
However, this is now set to change with all shops obliged to sell the bags, rather than giving them out for free.
The Prime Minister has also called for possible charges on single-use plastic takeaway containers – which is currently a huge contributor to plastic waste.
Possibly the most challenging of all the plans is for plastic-free aisles with all the food loose leading to a proposed reduction is plastic wrap by a huge 100%.
The Prime Minister believes the proposed changes demonstrates “global leadership” from the UK.
“We must reduce the demand for plastic, reduce the number of plastics in circulation and improve our recycling rates,” she added.
While some have criticised the speech and said that clear easy plans have been missed – it is a generally seen as a step towards a greener Britain.
So where does my 5p go?
Although the Government has not definitively said where the 5p levy will go – they do state that there is a ‘clear expectation’ that it should go to charity.
The Government sent out a survey last year asking all of the retailers where they placed those funds. Among those who responded were the top retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi, the co-op, Waitrose and Marks & Spencers.
They showed that between 2016 and 2017, a total of £66 million was donated to good causes.
The legal obligation
From a legal perspective, retailers already need to keep a count of how many bags were sold and what was done with the money accrued. If they fail to do so, they could face a hefty fine up to £20,000.
While a large chunk is giving to good causes, retailers can also deduct ‘resonable costs’ which cover the cost of staff training, admin and other till costs.