Lessons from the £0.05 Plastic Carrier Bag Charge 

In October 2015 the UK Government brought England into line with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland by introducing a carrier bag charge.  From that point, any retailer that employed over 250 people had to charge their customers £0.05 for every bag they used.  For smaller retailers it was optional.

The charge was introduced with the purpose of reducing usage of the bags and to reduce related environmental damage.  According to the UK Government website, the carrier bag scheme was not introduced to raise taxes. 

Prior to the scheme’s introduction, 61,000 tonnes of carrier bags were used in 2014 which equates to 7.6 billon plastic bags given to customers.  This works out to 140 bags per household. 

Furthermore, plastic carrier bags take longer to biodegrade, are a threat to wildlife, and are extremely visible when just thrown out as litter, especially in the countryside and town centres.

The Results of the Plastic Carrier Bag Charge

Since its introduction, the use of carrier bags in England has dropped dramatically.  According to reports in The Guardian Newspaper, usage has reduced by 85%.  This is simply astounding.

So how can you turn your Business Waste into a Commodity?

What the plastic carrier bag charge tells us is that waste has a value.  So every time you throw away ‘rubbish’ you are probably throwing away revenue.  The real tragedy here is not only could your organisation be helping UK business become sustainable, but you could also be reducing your business waste costs and actually making money on your waste.

To make money on your waste it is important that you realise that waste has a value, and that organisations purchase waste for a variety of reasons, mostly to recycle the waste for their own production or to sell on.

To sell your waste you should:

  • Identify local waste couriers in your area, and discover if they are interested in the waste you produce
  • Invest in means of separating your waste, this can be as simple as putting your waste into different bins
  • Discover the market value and related demand for your waste
  • Contact your waste courier and negotiate a deal for your waste
  • Train staff to separate waste so everyone is on board with the scheme

If you feel this is time consuming the sad truth is that it can be.  Discovering what waste couriers operate in your area and what waste they collect does take more time than a few Google searches.  This is why we developed the Green Alchemist.  It is an app that has been designed to find the value of your waste, and what waste couriers are interested in collecting it.  It is also packed full of features where you can auction your waste should more than one waste courier be interested.  The app works in real time and tracks the value of waste on the waste stock market.

To learn more about the Green Alchemist and the value of your waste, simply click here.  Feel free to ask questions, we want you to do something constructive with your waste as much you do.


UK Government Website

England's plastic bag usage drops 85% since 5p charge introduced – The Guardian Newspaper