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Plastic bag charge doubles to 10p

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

Single-use plastic bags now cost 10p in all shops in England in a bid to ramp up the war on plastic waste.

From today all stores in England are now required to apply the new charge which was announced earlier this month. Previously only retailers with 250 employees or more needed to do so. The plastic bag charge is already applicable to all businesses in Scotland and Wales.

The single-use carrier bag charge has seen a 95% cut in plastic bag sales in major supermarkets since 2015. Figures from DEFRA show that as a result of the charge, the average person in England now buys just four single-use carrier bags a year from the main supermarkets, compared with 140 in 2014.

The government says that by extending the charge to all retailers, it is expected that the use of single-use carrier bags will decrease by 70 to 80% in small and medium-sized businesses. About half of the independent retailers in the convenience sector already charge for plastic bags, with many removing plastic bags from sale altogether.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “The introduction of the 5p charge has been a phenomenal success, driving down sales of harmful plastic bags in supermarkets by a remarkable 95%. We know we must go further to protect our natural environment and oceans, which is why we are now extending this charge to all businesses.”

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: “We strongly welcome the inclusion of local shops and other small businesses into the successful plastic bag charging scheme, which not only helps the environment, but is also a great way for retailers to raise money for local and national charities.”