The single-use carrier bag charge, which has seen a 95% cut in plastic bag sales in major supermarkets since 2015, will be increased from 5p to 10 and extended to all businesses in England from 21 May to help drive down sales further.
As a result of the carrier bag 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. By extending the charge to all retailers, it is expected that the use of single-use carrier bags will decrease by 70-80% in small and medium-sized businesses.
Small businesses across the country are being urged to prepare themselves for the changes ahead of them coming into force on 21 May. It comes as new research finds the charge is supported overwhelmingly by the public – with 95% of people in England acknowledging the wide-ranging benefits to the environment so far.
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.
Over the next couple of weeks I urge all retailers of all sizes to make sure they are ready for the changes, as we work together to build back greener and strengthen our world-leading action to combat the scourge of plastic waste.
Association of Convenience Stores Chief Executive James Lowman 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.