Single-use plastic and paper bag ban

In July 2021 the States Assembly unanimously approved to ban single-use plastic and paper bags in order to reduce Jersey’s waste. Under the ban, which will come into force on 21st July 2022, retailers will no longer be able to sell or give away single-use plastic or paper bags, with a few exceptions such as plastic and paper “bags for life” that will be sold at the set minimum price of £0.70 which is hoped will further encourage islanders to move away from single use bags and to using their own reusable bags. Thin paper bags utilised for foods, pharmacy goods, gift bags, bin bags and food packaging are also exempt from the ban.

Banned & allowed bags

This table sets out clearly what will and will not be part of the ban.

Industry exemptions

The following exemptions are included for reasons relating to health, security and welfare. Bags used to contain:

  • uncooked fish and fish products;
  • prescription medicine or appliance;
  • live fish or other aquatic creatures;
  • goods in transport, such as at an airport, plane or ship.

You can read the proposition in full here.

Draft Single-use Plastics etc. (Restrictions) (Jersey) Law

FAQ's on the carrier bag ban

Your questions on the carrier bag ban and minimum price for bags for life are answered here:

What’s the timeline for the ban?

The draft law was passed on 21st July 2021 and the legislation included an implementation period of one year, before the ban comes into force.  This grace period is to give business a reasonable amount of time to use up any bags that will become prohibited and make any other changes required.  The law will come into effect from 21st July 2022, and from this time it will be an offence to import any of the outlined banned bags. Business’s may use up any existing stock of banned bags up until January 20th 2023, when any remaining uncompliant bag stock must either be gifted to charities or destroyed.

Our retail store currently use luxury card/paper bags, are these classed as gift bags and therefore exempt?

No, the gift bag exemption only applies to bags sold as wrapping for a gift. Luxury card or paper bags used to take goods home from a store are not classified as gift bags.

Some businesses raised this issue during the consultation period with the Government of Jersey so a paper “bag for life” criteria has been added. For a paper bag to classified as a bag for life, it must be over 170gsm and fully recyclable. They must also be sold to the at the minimum “bag for life” set price of £0.70.

We sell cosmetics and use popular branded bags for purchases, is this exempt as a counter bag?

‘Counter bags’ are paper bags (50gsm or below).  If you use these bags, you can continue as they are exempt from the future ban. It does not make a difference if the bag is branded or unbranded.

Why does the ban cover paper/card bags too, isn’t it just plastic use that is bad for the environment?

No. The Environment Agency reported that a paper carrier bag has to be reused at least 3 times to have the same impact as a single use plastic carrier bag.

The legislation includes paper bags as they have a greater environmental impact than plastic and it is important that retailers do not simply switch from plastic bags to paper bags. This would not achieve the aims of the legislation which are to reduce waste, increase reuse and support Jersey’s Carbon Neutral Strategy.

If we want to continue giving customers the option to buy plastic bags for life, is there anything we must do?

A plastic bag for life has been defined as a bag made of recyclable plastic that is 50 microns and above, and a paper bag for life is defined as over 170gsm.  You will be able to sell this type of bag to customers, but you must sell it for at least the minimum price of £0.70.

Once the new legislation is approved, we understand that guidance notes will be available to help businesses understand what bags can be provided to customers in the future.

How do I set up a recycling scheme for my bags?

It is recommended that retailers that sell bags for life, take back unwanted bags for life from customers and have a process in place to pass these bags on for recycling.  Check with your bag provider if they provide a ‘take back’ service for recycling.

The extra cost of the new bags and a recycling scheme will impact my business, do I have to pay the government the money I make from the bags?

No.  Any money made from selling bags for life is yours to keep.  Directing this revenue to charities is voluntary.

We are going to sell reusable cloth bags/corn stalk bags are they part of the ban?

The ban refers to paper and plastic bags. The legislation will not apply to bags made from other materials.

How can we have our say?

The retail consultation opened on the 20th August 2020, and closed on the 23rd September, it was hosted on and covered in press from the 16th June onward encouraging retailers to contribute towards it. Jersey Business also direct emailed all their retail contacts encouraging business to contribute, if you’re not part of our retail email list please contact our Head of retail Lorie on [email protected] to get included.

If you have questions not resolved by the above FAQs please contact [email protected] for further assistance.

Here is a link to the Government of Jersey website for information and to a flyer on which bags are permitted from 21 July 2022.