The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA said today that small retailers – defined as those employing 250 people or fewer – will no longer be exempt from the levy. Following a public consultation last year, in which the “vast majority” of respondents welcomed the changes, the minimum charge for single-use carrier bags will increase to 10p.
The Department said it has committed to implementing both changes from April 2021.
Alongside this, the move will also require producers of single-use carrier bags to report how much they sell.
George Eustice, Environment Secretary said today: “The UK is already a world-leader in this global effort, and our carrier bag charge has been hugely successful in taking billions of harmful plastic bags out of circulation.
“But we want to go further by extending this to all retailers so we can continue to cut unnecessary waste and build back greener.
“I hope our pioneering track record on single-use plastics will inspire many more countries to follow suit, so we can take on plastic waste together and implement lasting change.”
The 5p levy on plastic bags was introduced in England in 2015.
Recent government figures showing that the number of single-use bags distributed by large supermarkets has fallen more than 95 percent.
The average person in England now buys just four single-use bags a year, compared to around 140 in 2014.
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Environmental campaigners have partially welcomed the move but stressed that plastic bags were only “one part of the problem” of plastic pollution.
Sam Chetan-Welsh, the political campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “By raising the price of plastic bags again the Government is taking a small step in the right direction, but by now they should be taking great strides.
“Reinstating the previous price of carrier bags, but not taking action on bags for life, is only looking at one part of the problem.
“And it could be construed as tokenism when there are so many ways ministers know they could be driving fast and substantial reductions on plastic pollution.
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“If they’re increasing costs for shoppers, ministers really have no excuse not to increase costs for the companies that are responsible for the escalating volumes of single-use plastic packaging in the first place.”
Tom Fyans, deputy chief executive, of the CPRE, the countryside charity has also called for action to be taken on all single-use items, such as takeaway cups and forks.
He said: “To truly step up and face the war on plastic, Government should bring in charges on all single-use, throwaway items – from takeaway cups to wooden forks.
“Incentivising reuse systems and finally committing to an all-in Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers are the only ways the Government can achieve a litter-free countryside and win the war on waste.”