Guidelines on Single Use Carrier Bags in pharmacies

Compulsory Charge on Single Use Carrier Bags
On 1st October 2011 all community pharmacies in Wales, as retailers, will have to implement the Welsh Government's Compulsory Charge on Single Use Carrier Bags. On this website CPW will provide you with all the relevant information that we have on this and links to the Welsh Government's relevant information. Please keep checking with this website which we will update as we get more information and material.
The Welsh Government has launched a new website - Carrier Bag Charge Wales 
This contains much of the information they are currently making available and is written in a popular style. There is also a brief description of the rules as they affect pharmacies - Carrier Bag Charge for prescriptions
If you have any queries about any information here do not hesitate to ask CPW office via

We are in touch with government officials in both the environment and the health departments on the operation of this charge in community pharmacies and we will ensure we get answers for you if at all possible. Officials have accepted many small changes from CPW, especially in their publicity material where it has not been accurate when applied to pharmacies. 
The charge is being introduced through 2 pieces of Welsh legislation: the Single Use Carrier Bag Charge (Wales)Regulations 2010, for more information regarding this click here and part of the Waste (Wales) Measure 2010 for more information regarding this click here.  
As of 1st September 2011 we gather there are still amendments being made by the government to the Regulations including exempting retailers with less than 10 FTE employees from keeping records on the charge (NB: NOT excluding them from having to make the charge itself). We have been told by officials that locum pharmacists employed for just a few hours will not be included in the calculations for the 10 FTE, but we have not seen the Regulations on this yet.
Guidance has not yet been issued on how these Regulations should be implemented. However, we do not expect there to be many changes to the draft Guidance which is available in 2 parts at: 

- If the Welsh Government are not happy with the way in which net proceeds are disposed of by a retailer they have said they will use the powers in the Waste (Wales) Measure 2011 to force retailers to use the proceeds as directed by government. CPW have continued to warn the Welsh Government that we believe there is a danger that as no Regulations have been published on how the Government can use these powers, there is a danger that pharmacies and other retailers could act in good faith now in the dispersal of their charge's net proceeds, and still be criticised and forced to change by Welsh Ministers in the future. There is an indication of the principles the Government are minded to use to judge whether the net proceeds are being handled as the Government want in a Word document linked to the government website at:
Please note that this website note does not have the force of law and the intentions can be changed by future Welsh Ministers.  CPW continue to press the Government for clear Regulations on the Waste Measure.
- The key points of the charge as they stand at the moment are:
- it is a minimum of 5p
- VAT must be paid out of the charge i.e. it is 5p including VAT, not 5p plus VAT
- the Government expects pharmacies and other retailers to give the net proceeds of the charge to "good causes in Wales" although there is no statutory requirement to do this.
- if the retail business employs less than 10 FTEs they do not need to keep any records of the charge, CPW have been told by officials that locam pharmacists employed for only a few hours will not be included in calculation of the "10 FTE or less" which may make a difference to some smaller pharmacies - however, the regulations covering this have not been published by  06.09.2011.
- it must be charged on single use carrier bags made of plastic, paper, compostable material or biodegradable material, with a few exceptions
- the main exceptions can be found in the Regualtions and at:

- for pharmacies the main exemptions are:
(1) the charge does not have to be made on carrier bags that only have in them any medicines and appliances prescribed through an NHS or private prescription;
(2) the charge does not have to be made on carrier bags that only have in them items provided as part of other NHS services, such as smoking cessation services;
(3) the charge does not have to be made on carrier bags that only have in them P medicines provided by a registered pharmacist;
(4) Small paper bags which are less than 175 mm wide and 260 mm high, which do not have a gusset and do not have a handle;
(5) Small bags which are mainly plastic; have maximum dimensions of 125 mm (width) x 125 mm (height); do not have a gusset; and do not have a handle;
(6) Small bags made wholly from paper; have maximum dimensions of 80 mm (width) x 50 mm (gusset width) x 155 mm (height); and do not have a handle.
- Reports must be made by retailers every year in April, starting in April 2012 after 6 months of operation - reports must be published on a company website or in store and copied to an as yet unnamed point in the Welsh Government, and the reports must include (1) the number of bags charged for (2) the gross amount taken for these bags (3) the amount kept back by the retailer for reasonable costs (4) the amount of the net proceeds (5) what has been done with these net proceeds i.e. to which Welsh charity has it been given. 
- Enforcement of the charge is the responsibility of your local authority and enforcement will be 'complaints led', that is enforcement officers are only meant to investigate any possible breach of the rules if a complaint has been made to them. It is up to each of the 22 local authorites how they operate this enforcement responsibility in their area. We understand some intend to use their Trading Stadards Officers and some to use their environmental health officers. Fines are eligible for breaches of the rules and there is an appeals procedure.
- it is NOT just plastic bags that are covered in the legislation as much of the press coverage implies, it is also paper bags and compostable and biodegradable bags;
- you will be breaking the new law if you try and absorb the charge as some businesses have said they want to do, you have to pass it on to your customers and patients in order for you to stay within the new law.
- if the only items in a carrier bag are free of charge, such as complimentary promotional gifts, then the bag is not charged for.

For more information on this matter the NPA have produced guidance for it's members in Wales and has kindly agreed to make the guidance available to all contractors through the CPW website. Details of this can be obtained below:

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