Bags of trouble; Chaos in store over confusing 5p charges; Fury as small chains leap on the bandwagon.
STORE staff are preparing for long queues and frayed tempers at the tills today as shoppers contend with confusing new bag charges.
Amid fears workers could bear the brunt of consumer frustrations, there was also anger that some budget outlets who are exempt from the 5p levy are implementing it anyway.
The charge on plastic bags is meant to stop litter and cut down on environmentally unfriendly waste - and around PS90million raised from the scheme each year will go to charity.
But shops are expecting chaos because the rules mean some items, including fish, fruit and razor blades, can be put in free bags. However, if goods that are not exempt go in the same bag, it will cost 5p.
Food industry commentator Martin Isark - founder of Can I Eat It? - said: "This will result in longer queues, customer chaos and bad backs from shoppers trying to stuff more products into their shopping bag to avoid paying the extra levy." And union chiefs are urging shoppers not to direct their anger at till staff.
John Hannett, general secretary of USDAW - which represents shop workers - said: "Whenever there is a change of procedure like this people can get frustrated and can take it out on staff. Our message would be show some respect for them. They are just doing their job."
Money Saving Expert's Martin Lewis said consumers are "generally in favour" of the 5p charge if it helps the environment. Thebags in 5p brought in scheme only applies to stores in England with 250 or more full-time staff.
But some hard-up shoppers will be furious to learn smaller chains such as Budgens, Londis and Spar will also be charging for bags, despite not having to.
It will be up to retailers what they do with the cash raised. They are not obliged to give it to good causes and can deduct costs for admin fees and staff training. But most said they will give it to charity. And almost a penny from any 5p will go to the Treasury, raising PS19million a year in tax.
Tesco said: "We'll make sure the millions raised go towards making a difference for local communities."
Waitrose added: "Every penny will go into a community and environmental fund." Sainsbury's said: "The charge will be distributed to good causes."
Some stores offering deliveries will charge 5p per bag but customers can get their cash back if they return them. Shops could be fined up to PS5,000 if they fail to charge for the bags.
BAGS for unwrapped veg 'contaminated by soil' - such as loose potatoes - will not incur a charge. But anyone purchasing pre-wrapped potatoes WILL have to pay for a plastic bag.
Customers buying raw fish, poultry and meat can carry their goods home for free, but those with frozen fish fingers must pay.
However, fair-goers who win a goldfish will be given a bag for their new pet.
Goldfish Other goods exempt from the charge include unwrapped blades, such as razors, axes and knives, prescription medicine and open takeaway food like a bag of chips.
Any shoppers trying to smuggle goods not on the exempt list in a bag with free products will pay the 5p.
Bags must be charged for if they are plastic, unused, have handles and are 70 micrometres thick or less.
7.6bn The number of plastic bags handed out by supermarkets in England during 2014 71% Drop in use of bags in Wales after the 5p charge was brought in PS730m Estimated amount due to be raised for charities from bag fees over the next decade
FREE RIDE Goldfish
TIME TO PAY UP Frozen fish
CARRY ON Shoppers will pay for bags