From 5th October all companies with more than 250 employees started to charge 5p per plastic bag in an effort to reduce pollution.
The policy was imposed in order to reduce the number of bags being used and to encourage shoppers to reuse plastic carrier bags.
This change should reduce the number of bags being issued ‘by up to 80% in supermarkets and half on the high street’, according to the government. All retailers will need to keep a record of the number of plastic bags issued and failure to do so will result in a fine of up to £20,000.
However, items with plastic bags bought in transit e.g. airports, railways will not be charged. Bags for unwrapped food for consumption, raw meat and prescribed medicines will also be exempt from all charges.
All proceeds from the added cost are also to be reported by the retailers who are being encouraged to donate the profit to charities.
Because Oundle is mainly comprised of individual retailers, only the large retail chains have been affected by the changes. Within Oundle, retailers charging for plastic bags include: Tesco, Waitrose, The Co-operative and Boots.
Waitrose is planning on donating the money into a new community and environmental fund. Customers shopping online will have the option of a bag-less delivery or a payment set at 40p for a bagged delivery. In order to cater for these changes Waitrose have released a range of improved reusable bags for customers.
The Co-operative expects that the change will raise as much as £750,000 in 12 months alone. All proceeds from the retailers will be reinvested in community projects across Scotland.
Tesco, meanwhile, is planning to support a wider range of projects and charities that are nominated and voted by customers.
Small plastic bags at Boots are subject to charge and all proceeds collected will be donated to BBC Children in Need.
By Katie Orr