Plastic carrier bags

Source: Getty

The new rules mean small retailers with 250 employees or fewer will no longer be exempt from the plastic bag charge

ACS has called on Defra to confirm the implementation date for the upcoming law changes on plastic bags.

The new rules were initially proposed to come into force on 30 April. The fee for plastic shopping bags in England will double to 10p and be extended to all shops.

This means small retailers with 250 employees or fewer are no longer exempt and are required by law to record and report how many bags they sell.

However, to account for “a very busy parliamentary timetable”, Defra may have to revise that date to ensure there is sufficient time for debates on the Statutory Instrument (SI).

The Grocer understands the increased charge will come into effect the day after the Statutory Instrument has been signed off, with the aim still for “mid-spring”.

Defra is writing to stakeholders to inform them of the changes the SI will introduce and will provide an update once the dates for parliamentary debates have been set.

It will also be sharing updated guidance informally with stakeholders, in advance of it being published on

ACS CEO James Lowman said: “There are supposedly just weeks to go until the extension and increase in the plastic bag charge are supposed to come into force and we still don’t have clarity on the implementation date.

“Small retailers need as much notice and support from Defra as possible ahead of the change to enable them to provide advance notice of the change to customers and colleagues, which will reduce the risk of confrontation in store.

“ACS has long supported the extension of the plastic bag charge to all retailers in England as a way to provide consistency for customers, and as another great way of raising money for local and environmental charities.”

According to Defra, since the scheme was introduced for larger businesses in England, the number of bags used in those stores has fallen by around 80%.

Businesses of any size already charge for plastic bags in Wales and Scotland.