Review of standards for biodegradable plastic bags.

O'Callaghan, K.; Boardman, Carl; Murphy, Richard; Harrison, Jesse; Kosior, Ed; Song, Jim and Delort, Anne-Marie (2015). Review of standards for biodegradable plastic bags. Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, London.



The Single Use Carrier Bags Charges (England) Order 2015 requires retailers to charge at least 5p for each single use carrier bag, except where exempted.

Under section 18 of that order, the Secretary of State must—

(a) complete a review of industry standards for the biodegradability of lightweight plastic material; and
(b) lay a copy of a report before Parliament setting out the conclusions of the review, in particular—
(i) whether it appears to the Secretary of State that there exists an industry standard appropriate for the purposes of an exclusion from the obligations specified in Part 2 on grounds of biodegradability; and
(ii) if so, how that exclusion would be implemented.

That review has now been completed. It found that there are a number of standards for plastic bag biodegradability. We will need to conduct further work before any of these could be used to exempt certain types of carrier bags on grounds of biodegradability.

By the end of May 2016 retailers are required to report the number of bags that have been supplied, and the uses to which the proceeds of the charge have been put, after reasonable costs are deducted. The Government will use that opportunity to consider the early impacts of the charge. The Government will continue to consider the technical specification for a genuinely biodegradable bag, and will at that point further report on how an exemption for such a biodegradable bag can be implemented.

Viewing alternatives

Download history

Item Actions