Scottish retailers will be required to introduce a plastic bag levy by October 2014, leaving England the only part of the UK without such regulations.

Following a public consultation, Scotland’s environment secretary Richard Lochhead announced today that all retailers would have to charge at least 5p for single-use bags and donate the proceeds to charity.

The model is similar to the one introduced in Wales in October 2011, while Northern Ireland launched a 5p levy this year in which the proceeds are directed to the Department of Environment.

“We have seen elsewhere that carrier bag charging has been effective in encouraging people to reuse bags,” said Lochhead. “This charge is not a tax but will see retailers donating the proceeds to charity - this could be up to £5m per year after retailers have covered their costs.

“Thousands of Scottish people already use bags for life and some retailers already charge. It is now time, however, for a national effort.”

Scottish Retail Consortium director Fiona Moriarty said: “It is our view that if we focus solely on plastic bags we are in danger of being distracted from much larger and more important issues around waste. 

“The SRC will be working with the Scottish Government to ensure that the legislation is proportionate and as far as possible consistent across the UK to avoid confusion for customers and businesses.”