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Umesh Modi is a chartered accountant, and Pamini Jatheeskumar is a chartered certified accountant at Silver Levene...
  Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead...
Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
More inWhite Papers  

reusebagsSeptember 9 2015

The 5p charge on single-use plastic carrier bags in force from October in England will apply to retailers with 250 full-time equivalent employees or more.

Details of the scheme’s implementation define the number of FTE employees as “the number of total hours contracted to work by all employees divided by the number of hours worked by a single full-time employee.

“A full-time staff member who worked all year counts as one employee. Part-time and seasonal staff, and those who did not work the full year, are counted as fractions of one employee.”

Businesses with fewer than 250 FTEs do not have to charge for bags, and those businesses in franchise or symbol groups should only count their own employees, not the number employees in the franchise or symbol group as a whole.

As the policy is being introduced halfway through this tax year, the reporting year will run from October 5 2015 to April 6 2016. Subsequently, the reporting year will be April 7 to April 6.

The National Pharmacy Association has summarised the legislation details regarding what the minimum 5p charge will apply to: “plastic carrier bags which are unused, have handles and are 70 microns thick or less.”

There are a number of exemptions, however, including for the provision of prescription only medicines. Schedule 2 to The Single Use Carrier Bags Charges (England) Order 2015 sets out the types of excluded bags, and describes a POM bag as:

“A bag intended to be used solely to contain a prescription-only medicine, a pharmacy medicine or a listed appliance sold in accordance with a prescription issued by a doctor, dentist, supplementary prescriber, nurse independent prescriber, independent nurse prescriber, optometrist independent prescriber, pharmacist independent prescriber or EEA health professional.”

Also included in the excluded bags are “returnable, multiple reuse”, “woven plastic” and “transit goods” bags, with other exclusions relating to the carrying of unwrapped food, loose seed or bulbs, unwrapped bladed implements, and live aquatic creatures.

Where the charge is applicable, this must be a minimum of 5p including VAT. Retailers are also required to keep records, and to send the records to the Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural affairs (DEFRA) by May 31 following the end of each reporting year. Records that should be kept are:

•    the number of bags supplied
•    the gross and net proceeds of the charge
•    any VAT in the gross proceeds
•    what was done with the proceeds from the charge
•    any reasonable costs and how they break down.

Reasonable costs are described as those that are incurred in complying with the legislation, so costs incurred in implementing the charge are expected to be significantly lower after the first year. Reasonable costs do not include existing costs such as the cost of the bag.

DEFRA has also produced posters and online artwork for retailers to alert customers to the new regulations.

Links:

NPA advice    

DEFRA guidance    

DEFRA ‘Single-use plastic carrier bag charges: artwork for retailers’    

‘The Single Use Carrier Bags Charges (England) Order 2015’    

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