The 5p plastic bag charge will be extended to all retailers and increased to 10p to cut their use further, under plans put forward in a consultation launched by the Environment Secretary.
Currently, the 5p charge applies only to big businesses, but it is estimated over 3.6 billion single-use plastic bags are supplied annually by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Trade bodies representing around 40,000 small retailers have already launched a voluntarily approach to a 5p charge, but this accounts for less than one-fifth of England’s estimated 253,000 SMEs.
The consultation will also explore the possibility of increasing the 5p minimum charge to encourage further behaviour change, potentially doubling it to 10p.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove commented: “The 5p single use plastic carrier bag charge has been extremely successful in reducing the amount of plastic we use in our everyday lives. Between us, we have taken over 15 billion plastic bags out of circulation.
But we want to do even more to protect our precious planet and today’s announcement will accelerate further behaviour change and build on the success of the existing charge.”
The government has recently announced a range of measures to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste underpinned by the landmark Resources and Waste Strategy . Other key government actions announced over the past 12 months include a world-leading ban on microbeads, a consultation on restricting the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, and plans for a deposit return scheme to increase recycling rates of drinks bottles and cans subject to consultation.
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