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​Welsh Carrier Bag Charge

Gwyl Taf has been made possible by Greggs the Baker, donating all of the money raised by the carrier bag charge to South East Wales River Trust!

What is the ‘Single-use carrier bag Charge’ in Wales all about?

On the first of October 2011 the Welsh Government introduced a minimum charge of 5p for all ‘single-use carrier bags’. Despite the charge being informally termed the ‘Plastic Bag Tax’ it applies to paper, degradable plastic, biodegradable ‘plastic’ – cornstarch, and part-plastic bags not just the traditional standard plastic bags.

Yes, but why should I pay?

It is thought that before the charge was introduced that about 80% British shoppers put all of their shopping into free carrier bags when shopping. This works out to be a massive 60 bags per month or 720 bags per year which works out to be over 43,000 in a lifetime per person!

So in short the Welsh Government believes that if nothing else will, having to pay at least 5p for each of these bags it will make you re-use your shopping bags (resulting in an almost two and a half thousand pound saving over your life).

If those statistics weren’t enough to make you take your bags back to the supermarket with you, maybe the fact that 86% of these bags will end up as litter or in landfill where they may take 1000 years to decompose if they ever do completely. According to Keep Wales Tidy approximately 3% of the weight of litter collected is made up of plastic carrier bags, and when you think how light plastic bags are, compared to other litter types like coke cans and glass bottles, it really hits home how many bags that means.  With these figures in mind Welsh Local Authorities have estimated the clean-up costs caused by plastic bag litter to be £1 million each year!

All in all reusing your carrier bags will help us

  1. Combat climate change
  2. Reduce litter
  3. Protect wildlife
  4. Use our natural resources for more important things than making plastic bags!

Ok, but how does me paying for bags make any difference? Where does the money actually go?

We’re glad you asked! The money raised from the charge goes to support good causes in your local area, not back into the pocket of the retailers or straight to the government. These causes are encouraged to be environmentally based projects that aim to address the damage caused to the environment by humans and their litter or help people learn about their local environment and how they can enjoy it.

But has the charge actually worked?

It’s still early days yet but we are already starting to see improvements! Since the charge was introduced the retailers have seen up to a 95% decrease in the number of carrier bags used in Wales. During the same time in England and Northern Ireland the opposite has been seen and the number of carrier bags used has increased.

​Retailer type

​Percentage decrease in carrier bag use

Food shops
Fashion shops
Home improvement shops95%
Food services

Wow! How fascinating…where can I find out more?

Why not check out these links