Greetings card firm The Card Factory plc has sidestepped the government's 5 p plastic bag charge by giving its customers bags without handles.
The publicly traded chain store company, based in Wakefield, England, is believed to be one of a number of card retailers that has skirted round the regulations.
After contacting the company, a spokesman confirmed the measure to PRW. He said: “The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed that not charging for bags without handles complies with the regulations as they stand.”
An employee at one of the firm's stores also confirmed to PRW that The Card Factory had cut off the tops of the bags to give to customers.
A Defra spokeswoman said: “As stated in our guidance, you must charge at least 5p a bag for carrier bags that are all of the following: unused — it's new and hasn't already been used for sold goods to be taken away or delivered, plastic and 70 microns thick or less, it has handles, an opening and isn't sealed.”
The charge has had a mixed response across the United Kingdom, with bag use falling across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. England was the last country to bring in the charge, in October.
Supermarket giant Tesco has claimed the number of single-use bags used by customers at its stores in England has fallen by 78 percent since the 5p bag levy came into effect.
Customers shopping on Tesco.com have also dramatically reduced the number of bags they use, with the number of online shoppers selecting ‘bagless' deliveries increasing by nearly 50 percent.
The drop in bag use by customers in store is almost 10 percent higher than Tesco predicted before the bag levy was introduced.
Meanwhile research by a money saving website has estimated that a potential £26.7m-worth of carrier bags have been stolen in England since October.
The research was carried out by website www.VoucherCodesPro.co.uk in a bid to understand the affect the carrier bag charge has had on the retail sector and English consumers.
A total of 2,784 English residents were polled. Initially, respondents were asked whether they had stolen any carrier bags since the charge came into effect in October 2015. The study found that 51 percent of respondents had stolen bags in the past three months.
The average bag thief also pinched three bags a month.
Based on the figure that 51 percent of English adult respondents admit to stealing three carrier bags on average per month, which if taken across the all country would be 19,756,788 people, then researchers estimated that £26,671,664 (US$38 million) worth of carrier bags have been stolen since the charge came in in October 2015.