The 5p plastic bag charge will be extended to all retailers and increased to 10p to cut their use further, if plans put forward in a consultation launched by the Environment Secretary on the 27th December 2018 become law .
Government scientists believe plastic in the sea is set to treble in a decade unless marine litter is curbed.
Currently, the 5p charge applies only to big businesses, but it is estimated that 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 move follows the success of the 5p charge introduced in 2015, which has seen single use plastic bag sales in major supermarkets drop by 86%. This is equivalent to just 19 bags in 2017/18 per person in England, compared with 140 bags each before the government introduced the charge.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “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.”