The single-use plastic bag charge has today been extended to all businesses in England and increased to 10p.
Previously, a charge of 5p was required in large retailers, though many smaller businesses also adopted the charge on a voluntary basis.
Designed to tackle the problem of plastic pollution, the 5p charge has led to a 95% reduction in plastic bag sales in major supermarkets in England since 2015. The extension of the charge is anticipated to decrease the use of single-use plastic bags by 70-80% in small and medium-sized businesses, according to government projections.
The average household now uses just four single-use plastic carrier bags a year, down from 140 a year before the 5p charge was introduced.
Speaking about the extension of the charge, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said;
“Everyone wants to play their part in reducing the scourge of plastic waste that blights our environment and oceans. The 5p bag charge has been hugely successful, but we can go further.
“From today we will increase the charge to 10p and extend it to all businesses. This will support the ambitious action we have already taken in our fight against plastic as we build back greener.
“We have banned the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, banned microbeads in personal care products, and we are consulting on a new deposit return scheme for drinks containers.”
The extension of the charge has broadly been welcomed, though some have called on the Government to go further – such as through tackling the use of ‘Bags for Life’ and other products made from plastic.