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Carrier bag charges for Scotland

In October 2014, the Scottish Government introduced legislation requiring all retailers to charge a minimum of 5p for each single-use carrier bag (paper, starch-based and plastic) that is handed out to shoppers.

To avoid being charged, remember to take your reusable bags along when you go shopping.

Did you know?

  • Scotland uses more single use carrier bags per person than any other nation in the UK.
  • There are approximately 7 million single use carrier bags in the litter stream in Scotland.
  • Shoppers use approximately 750 million bags each year.
  • Each person uses approximately 11 bags per month.

What are the benefits of cutting down on single use carrier bags?

  • It costs less to dispose of bags. 
  • It costs less to clean up bags littering streets and beaches. 
  • Streets and beaches are cleaner and look better if there are fewer plastic bags littering them. 
  • Reduced air pollution (including CO2 emissions).
  • Reduced water pollution.  

Does introducing a carrier bag charge work?

Yes. Single Use Carrier Bag charges have already been introduced successfully in other parts of the UK. Single use bags have been cut by 80% in Northern Ireland and 75% in Wales.

In Scotland, there is a potential saving of 11 million per year, simply by reducing the number of plastic bags that we use. 

For more information, visit the Scottish Government's Cleaner Scotland website.

Reusable Bags

A reusable bag can help you save money and do your bit for the environment. 

When using reusable bags, it is important to remember some simple steps to ensure good hygiene, especially when carrying food.

Raw meat and fish can contain germs that cause food poisoning such as salmonella and E. coli. Packing raw meat and fish, together with ready meals or fresh produce, can lead to germs spreading, especially if there are spillages from the raw meat or fish packaging.

To help prevent these germs from spreading, here are some important tips to remember:

  • Pack raw meat and fish separately.
  • Keep one or two reusable bags to use just for raw meat and fish. Do not use these to carry ready meals or raw fruit and vegetables.
  • Wash reusable bags regularly. Bags used for raw meat and fish should be washed with hot water.


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