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The 5p charge on plastic bags to be introduced in October faces accusations that it will confuse customers - and doubtless lead to arguments at the checkout. The charge is being introduced as part of a government policy to reduce waste by cutting bag use by up to 80 per cent in supermarkets and by half on the high street, with the aim of reducing litter and protecting wildlife. The new rules are likely to baffle shoppers and cashiers alike, as till operators will be the ones to decide whether the charge must be paid. But before they charge you, they have to ensure the bag ‘qualifies’ as a bag. The government has issued guidelines defining what a plastic carrier bag is: it must be made of plastic, be unused, have handles and be 70 microns thick or less. Cashiers must then check if the items in your shopping qualify for a free plastic bag. Guidelines issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) note that you can receive a free plastic bag if your shopping includes items from a long list of exemptions, including: uncooked fish, meat and poultry products, unwrapped blades and “live aquatic creatures in water”. Also included are flowers, bulbs, potatoes and prescription drugs. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/rules-on-5p-plastic-bags-likely-to-lead-to-arguments-at-the-check-out-10478570.html You won't get charged for plastic bags that are: for uncooked fish and fish products for uncooked meat, poultry and their products for unwrapped food for animal or human consumption - for example, chips, or food sold in containers not secure enough to prevent leakage during normal handling for unwrapped loose seeds, flowers, bulbs, corns, rhizomes (roots, stems and shoots, such as ginger) or goods contaminated by soil (such as potatoes or plants) for unwrapped blades, including axes, knives, and knife and razor blades for prescription medicine for live aquatic creatures in water woven plastic bags for goods in transport, such as at an airport or on a train, plane or ship considered as sealed packaging for mail order and click-and-collect orders (regardless of handles) returnable multiple reuse bags (bags for life) used to give away free promotional material used for a service but there’s no sale of goods, such as dry cleaning or shoe repairs A bag can contain multiple items from this list and not incur a charge. However, if the bag contains other items then you must charge. For example, you wouldn’t charge for a bag containing an unwrapped blade and unwrapped loose seeds, but adding a box of cornflakes means you’d have to charge. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/carrier-bag-charges-retailers-responsibilities