News Compulsory Bag Charge Extended To All Pet Shops

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Compulsory bag charge extended to ALL pet shops
23rd February 2021

By Justine Thompson

Pet stores will be forced to charge customers for plastic bags when the fee in England doubles to 10p from April.

And small retailers employing 250 staff or fewer will no longer be exempt when the new charge takes effect.

An increasing number of pet stores are already moving away from plastic and encouraging customers to use their own carrier bags. However, there is concern that some pet shops are as yet unaware of the changes.

Before announcing that the new 10p charge would be extended to all retailers, Defra carried out a public consultation. It found that 1.7 billion bags were supplied by large retailers last year compared to an estimated 3.4 billion by small- and medium-sized businesses.

But Defra has been accused of not publicising the change, leaving some retailers in the dark about the new arrangements.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira, parent body to the Pet Product Retail Association, said: “We were broadly supportive of this from an environmental prospect. However, we also wanted to make sure that the changes were clearly communicated and that appears to be a growing concern with only two months to go until implementation.”

Among businesses already aware of the change, many are in support. Gary Thompson, owner of the Wag & Bone store in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, believes the new 10p charge is a good thing.
He said: “We only use paper bags with string handles and try wherever possible to source products with little or no plastic in the packaging – it is something we very much consider when taking on new products.
“Many of our customers bring their own bags. Whatever we can do to help reduce plastic we should welcome it.”

For Debbie Convery, from the Not For Humans pet boutique in Folkestone, Kent, it’s a similar story.
“I don’t use plastic bags, only paper,” said Debbie. “Many of my customers come prepared with their own reusable bags, or pop their purchases in bags with other shopping.”

Josh Beeston, joint owner of Ginger & Browns in Cheshire, added: “In the five years we've been open, we've always used paper bags. The customers we attract lean towards ethically sourced and locally made products, and supporting independents etc, so bringing their own bag is usually part of their routine regardless.”

And Sammie Hunt of Redpaw Pet Products said she had already been charging 10p for plastic bags in an effort to reduce their use.
“We reuse clean boxes from our deliveries and encourage customers to use these rather than buy a bag. Many customers already bring their own bags – we strongly encourage environmental shopping.”