The Co-operative Food Carrier Bag

Carrier bags are the talk of the town! For some the carrier bag levy has been a welcomed change and one they have been waiting for. For others the change has been a little confusing or difficult to remember – there are many of us who have been stumped at the checkout when realising we’d forgotten our bag for life!

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Since the introduction of carrier bag levy in England there has been some confusion about what the government policy is, so we thought we’d answer some of your questions.

Which shops have to charge for carrier bags?

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The government policy states that businesses which employ more than 250 members of full time staff are required to charge for carrier bags. So although many of our stores are small, because they belong The Co-operative who employ around 70,000 people across the UK your local store is required to charge 5p for all single use carrier bags.

Which plastic bags can I get for free and which do I pay for?

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The policy states that all large retailers have to charge for all single use plastic carrier bags. At the Co-op these are the plastic bags with handles and company branding on them. However there are a number of plastic bags in store that are still free. These include –

      • The clear plastic bags used to hold loose veg or goods contaminated by soil such as potatoes paper bag 1plastic produce bag
      • The plastic bags used to wrap and protect uncooked fish, fish products, meat and meat products are free for food hygiene reasons. These plastic produce bags are handed out at deli counters but can be requested at checkouts for raw meat from meat aisles
      • Flower bags
      • Clear plastic bags for loose seeds
      • Clear plastic bags for bulbs, corms or rhizomes (roots, stems and shoots, such as ginger).
      • Clear plastic bags for unwrapped blades, knives, and knife and razor blades
      • Or paper bags for prescription medicine

What happens to the money I now spend on carrier bags?

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At the Co-op we are donating the money raised through the carrier bag levy to local charities and causes. We are also including the money we make on all our bags for life and compostable carriers. Individuals can apply or suggest charities they would like to see receive a share of the money through our Co-op Local Fund. This initiative has already launched in Scotland where over 2,500 charities were nominated. Co-op members will be able to vote for which causes they think should get a share of the money.

Visit our Food Matters website to find out more about our carrier bag policy.

Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. You need to explain this to your staff! As a customer I have recently had an very poor customer service experience when I bought some raw chicken and asked for a bag. I was refused!! When I asked to speak to the manager, the member of staff claimed he was the manager. There’s no hope if you don’t bother training your staff.

    • Hi there, was your raw chicken unpackaged? If so, you should have been given a free bag – not a carrier bag – but a transparent plastic bag-on-a-roll as one would expect as a deli or fresh produce counter. Carrier bags in Co-op are never free, no matter what’s in them, only other plastic bags can be if necessary such as flower bags and bags for fish or raw meat. ^Jordan

      • You clearly don’t understand your own policy! I’ve had an apology from your Head Office, but I won’t be shopping at co-op again. Such a bad experience, made worse by people like you who should know better. Please read the original legislation, as you might then understand it.

  2. Cotton Carrier Bag is really good for environment.


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