The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) has approved the plastic bag charge. From October 1, 2011, retailers will have to charge customers 5p per single-use carrier bag.

Environment Minister Jane Davidson said that this charge will help reduce the number of carrier bags distributed in the country. "The idea of the charge is not to make people pay for carrier bags," she said. "Rather, it is to encourage shoppers to make use of the bags they already have. No one has to pay the charge; it can be simply avoided if we remember to carry reusable bags when we do our shopping."

The levy was originally scheduled to be introduced in March next year, but has been delayed to allow for a "smoother introduction". The 5p charge is also lower than the proposed 7p as the WAG feared that it would lead to more 'bags for life' used as single-use carrier bags.

The charge has met with dismay from retailers and trade bodies. The Association of Convenience Stores warned that it would place a "further bureaucratic burden onto thousands of Welsh businesses".

Retailers can donate the money received for carrier bags to a charity of their choice.