Plastic Bags Tax (UK)


The Single Use Carrier Bags Charge (Wales) Regulations 2010 (amended 2011) are in force from 1st October 2011.

These rules require all retailers in Wales to charge a minimum of 5 pence for every single use carrier bag (including paper bags but not large plastic bags or paper bags used for raw food and certain other products) supplied new. Retailers employing fewer than 10 full-time staff do not have to keep records or make reports. County councils and county borough councils administer this charge. The money raised is kept by the retailer and the rules do not specify where the proceeds of the charge should go. The expectation is that the proceeds should be passed on to charities or to good causes in Wales, and in particular to environmental projects. 

A voluntary agreement sets out guiding principles on where the net proceeds should go. The Waste (Wales) Measure 2010 gives Welsh Ministers the power to create regulations which would impose duties on retailers on the destination of proceeds from the charge. 

The voluntary agreement is here.


The legislation is The Single Use Carrier Bags Charge (Scotland) Regulations 2014 (amended 2015). This came into force on 20th October 2014. As with Wales, the charge is 5p per single use carrier bag, and again businesses employing less than 10 full-time staff are exempt from the requirement to keep, retain and supply information about the bags supplied and the monies received as a result of the charge. Also retailers keep the charge, and again the expectation is that these monies should be donated to good causes.

A Carrier Bag Committment document exists for retailers to sign up to. Details are found here.

Northern Ireland

Requirements are set out in the Carrier Bags Act (Northern Ireland) 2014, the Single Use Carrier Bags Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, and The Single Use Carrier Bags Charge Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013. These came into effect from 8th April 2013.

These rules oblige retailers (as in Wales and Scotland) to charge 5p for every single use carrier bag supplied new. In addition, from 19th January 2015, retailers must add 5p to all carrier bags with a retail price below 20p, regardless of whether they are single use or reusable. This is called the Carrier Bag Levy and In Northern Ireland, the monies raised must be paid to the Department of Environment (DOE). Further information is found here.


The Single Use Carrier Bags Charges (England) Order 2015 sets out the rules, and came into force on 5th October 2015.

The obligation to charge for single-use carrier bags applies to retailers with 250 or more employees. Smaller businesses may also charge on a voluntary basis if they wish. The 250 employee threshold applies to the company not the size of the individual retail outlet. Records must be kept and sent to DEFRA. It is expected that all proceeds (after deduction of reasonable costs) should be donated to good causes, along the lines of the way this works in Wales. Further information is found here.

Food Waste (UK)

Northern Ireland

The Food Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 amend the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 (as amended) to provide for the separate collection of food waste from 1st April 2016.

The duty is on food businesses producing in excess of 5kg of food waste per week to present food waste for separate collection. For the period 1st April 2016-31st March 2017, the threshold is 50kg of food waste per week. These businesses must not deposit food waste in a lateral drain or sewer (this duty applies from 1st April 2017).

Waste transporters must collect and transport food waste separately from other waste. This duty applies from 1st April 2015.

Subscribers to Cardinal Environment Tailored EHS Legislation Registers will have their systems updated nearer the time, and a formal Email Alert will be sent out.


The above duties apply in Scotland. The relevant dates is 1st January 2016 for the threshold to drop from 50 kg per week to 5kg per week, and for the ban on disposal to drain.

Cardinal Environment Tailored EHS Legislation Registers are already updated, subscribers are reminded in 2015 Annual Reviews, and a reminder Email Alert will be sent out.

England and Wales

No food waste legislation is yet enacted. A Food Waste (Reduction) Bill is introduced as a 10-Minute Rule Motion and has all party support. This bill will have its second reading in January 2016. 

This bill obliges the Secretary of State to make provision for a scheme to establish incentives to implement and encourage observance of the food waste reduction hierarchy; to encourage individuals, businesses and public bodies to reduce the amount of food they waste; to require large supermarkets, manufacturers and distributors to reduce their food waste by no less than 30 per cent by 2025 and to enter into formal agreements with food redistribution organisations; to require large supermarkets and food manufacturers to disclose levels of food waste in their supply chain.

Information on bill progress is found here.

Republic of Ireland (ROI)

ROI has had food waste legislation in place for some time.

Cardinal Environment Tailored EHS Legislation Systems already include these rules.

Air Quality Consultation (UK)

My recent posts (in the Air category) cover (a) the decision of the European Court to prosecute the UK as respects Nitrogen Dioxide in ambient air, and (b) the UK Supreme Court decision mandating the UK government to bring forward plans to rectify it’s non-compliance with the European NO2 air quality standard. 

The UK is compliant for nearly all air pollutants. However, it is a significant challenge to meet the NO2 limit values in some areas. The EU Ambient Air Quality Directive (AQD) sets limits on key air pollutants, for NO2, there are two limit values for the protection of human health:
(i) annual mean concentration levels of NO2 should not exceed 40μg/m3; and
(ii) hourly mean concentration levels of NO2 should not exceed 200μg/m3 more than 18 times a calendar year.

The UK is divided into 43 zones and agglomerations for air quality monitoring and reporting purposes. In 2013, 38 out of the 43 UK zones were assessed to be exceeding the maximum annual limit for NO2, together with one zone exceeding the hourly limit.

Road transport is the dominant source of pollution in areas where the UK is exceeding NO2 limit values, although the effects of urban and regional background non-transport sources are also relevant.

The UK government is consulting (Scotland is conducting its own consultation):

The consultation comprises:

(1) A consultation document that summarises the key elements from the draft plans (draft air quality plans for each agglomeration) and identifies the main areas where views are sought;

(2) A draft UK overview document that sets out the UK’s approach for meeting NO2 limit values in the shortest possible time;

(3) Draft plans to improve air quality in each of the 38 zones exceeding the annual mean limit value for NO2. The zone plans contain the information required by the Ambient Air Quality Directive, describe the compliance situation for each zone and include more detailed information on measures being taken at a local level.

The England, Wales and Northern Ireland consultation document is found here.

The Scotland consultation document is found here.

The draft UK overview document is found here.

The draft Air Quality Plans are found here.

Please note the draft Air Quality Plan for the Greater London Urban Area refers to the London Mayor’s new Ultra Low Emissions Zone. I will post about this separately.

Please note I will post about the diesel passenger vehicle emissions situation shortly.

Energy Efficiency Tax Consultation (UK)

Following the announcement of a review of the business energy efficiency tax landscape at the Summer Budget, HM Treasury is consulting (28th September to 9th November) to seek evidence and set out policy proposals to simplify and improve the effectiveness of the energy tax framework.

The review considers business energy policies and regulations, including the Climate Change Levy (CCL), the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC), taxes on other fuels – e.g. heating oils, Climate Change Agreements (CCA), mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting, the Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs), and the Electricity Demand Reduction (EDR) pilot.

A first question asks if you agree with the principle of moving away from the current system of overlapping policies towards a system where a single business/organisation faces one tax and one reporting scheme – the consultation asks for the respondent to provide evidence on the level and types of benefits of an approach like this.

The government’s approach is for there to be a single reporting framework.

The consultation asks if you agree mandatory reporting should remain as an important element of the landscape in driving the uptake of low carbon and energy efficiency measures? If not, why not?

Should such reports require board level sign off and should report data be made publicly available? the consultation asks for reasons.

The consultation also asks if governments should develop a single reporting scheme requiring all ESOS participants (and potentially the public sector) to report regularly at board level. If so, what data should be included in such reports.

There is a question about whether such streamlined reports should be required of other larger companies (as defined in the Companies Act) that are not publicly listed.

The proposal is to move towards a single tax by abolishing the CRC and moving the revenue raising element into a single business energy consumption tax based on the CCL. The consultation indicates the government is open to views as to the balance of tax costs across fuels, where proposals can better deliver carbon reduction potential. A series of questions is asked in this area.

A series of questions is asked about the effectiveness of the CCA scheme.

The full consultation is found here.