plastic bags

The new 5p charge for plastic bags in England will help raise more than £730m for good causes, according to the government.

The new charge, which comes into force in England today (5 October), will see each 5p surcharge per carrier bag go to charitable causes.

Alongside the start of the new rules the government has also released new data today estimating that the charges will see an extra £730m going to good causes over the next 10 years – or around £73m a year.

The government has also forecast that this could also add an extra £780m to the UK economy over the same period, with around £60m being saved in litter clean-up costs.

A levy on plastic bags has been in operation in Wales since 2011, and has raised £22m for good causes since its introduction. Charging for bags was also introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland last year.

A Waitrose spokeswoman told The Grocer that: “Every penny raised from the sale of carrier bags from our stores will go into a new community and environmental fund - with no deduction for costs. The money will go to worthwhile causes, which will be decided each year.”

She added that it is currently finalising which charity will be the first it will support from the surcharges.

Morrisons has already announced it will use its proceeds to chiefly support the Morrisons Foundation and the company’s national charity partner Sue Ryder.

Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s said it will voluntarily give profits from the sale of a new, thicker reusable 5p bag to local charities and good causes.

And Aldi will donate the money it raises from the sale of bags across the UK to the RSPB. The partnership is expected to run for at least three years. 

Klara Kozlov, head of corporate clients at the Charities Aid Foundation, said: “Evidence suggests that the introduction of a plastic bag charge in England will not only lead to a significant reduction in carrier bags being issued, but it will do a huge amount to help charities carry out their important work.

“It can be a source of reassurance for shoppers that money they pay for carrier bags will be going to worthy causes, many of which will bring a direct benefit to them and their neighbourhoods.”