Carrier bag charge

Last updated: 15 May 2020

By law, all retailers in Scotland must charge a minimum of 5p for each new single-use carrier bag.

The law came into effect on 20 October 2014 and the aim is to encourage bag re-use and reduce the amount of litter in Scotland.

The charge applies to all single-use bags, including those made of:

  • paper
  • plastic
  • some plant-based materials

Changes during coronavirus

Because of coronavirus (COVID-19), the 5p carrier bag charge has been removed for certain types of delivery and collection until 3 October 2020.

Retailers do not have to charge for a carrier bag if they're being used for:

  • grocery deliveries to your home (no matter how you placed the order)
  • collecting groceries you ordered ahead of time (such as 'click and collect' services in supermarkets)
  • collection and delivery of takeaway food
This change does not mean that retailers have to give you a carrier bag for free in these situations. Retailers are still allowed to charge for carrier bags if they want to.

If you're a retailer

If you're a Scottish retailer, Zero Waste Scotland is helping you understand what the regulations mean for your business through their website Carrier Bag Charge Scotland.

The money raised from charging for carrier bags belongs to your business, however, the Scottish Government is keen to see this money donated to good causes.

Your business can sign up to the Carrier Bag Commitment portal to report the number of bags sold and the amount of money donated.