Plastic bag charge to double to 10p in all shops in England

The single-use carrier bag charge will rise from 5p to 10p and be extended to all businesses in England from 21 May.

The government said all stores, including corner shops, will now have to apply the charge from that date.

The 5p levy on plastic bags was introduced in England in 2015. Since then their use has fallen by over 95%.

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 introduction of the 5p charge has been a phenomenal success,” said Environment Minister Rebecca Pow.

By extending the charge to all retailers, the government hopes the use of single-use carrier bags will fall by 70-80% in small and medium-sized businesses.

“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,” said Ms Pow.

“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.”

Removing bags

John Lewis said it was trialling the removal of single-use bags from its Cheltenham, Kingston and Leeds stores from 21 May.

Customers will be asked to bring their own bags or buy a reusable bag made from 100% recyclable material costing 50p for a medium size and 75p for a large size.

Marija Rompani, director of ethics and sustainability for the John Lewis Partnership, said: “It has become the norm to take our own bags when we go food shopping but we have a different mindset when shopping for clothes, beauty and home products.

“We expect our customers will be supportive of this change and will be listening to their feedback.”

Cutting plastics

“Plastic pollution is one of the most visible symptoms of the environmental crisis, damaging natural habitats and putting precious wildlife at risk,” sasid Paula Chin, sustainable materials specialist at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

“Measures to reduce plastics consumption need to go much further. The UK government must consider a complete ban on single-use bags and make sure this is not undermined by the sale of ‘bags for life’, which are currently cheaply available and all too often end up as single-use items.”

Morrisons

The Co-op became the latest supermarket chain to say it will stop selling plastic “bags for life” last month.

The retailer, which has 2,600 shops, said many people only used the 10p bags once before throwing them away.

The Co-op said its move would take 29.5 million bags for life, or about 870 tonnes of plastic, out of circulation every year.

Earlier last month Morrisons said it would switch from offering plastic “bags for life” to a paper alternative.

In recent years, all supermarkets have tried to cut plastics use.

Waitrose is currently trialling the removal of its 10p bags for life from several of its stores.

Sainsbury’s has said its bags for life cost 20p to encourage customers to re-use them and are made from 100% recycled plastic.

Tesco increased the price of its bags for life to 20p in September 2020 and doesn’t sell single-use bags.

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Plastic bag charge to double to 10p in all shops in England

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