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May 10, 2021

UK Government to double plastic bag charge in England

The UK Government has decided to double the cost of single-use plastic bags in England from 21 May.

All stores, including corner shops, will comply with the increase from 5p to 10p.

The government launched the 5p levy in 2015 in an effort to cut down on sales of single-use plastic bags.

The initiative has seen plastic bag sales decrease by 95% in major supermarkets.

In England, the average shopper now purchases only four carrier bags from the main supermarkets a year because of the charge.

By doubling the charge and extending it to all businesses, the government aims to reduce the use of single-use carrier bags by small and medium-sized businesses by 70-80%.

Last March, the charge was dropped for online deliveries in an effort to speed up food distribution during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

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.

“This not only helps the environment but is also a great way for retailers to raise money for local and national charities.”

Earlier this month, UK-based supermarket chain the Co-operative committed to eliminating plastic ‘bags for life’ from all 2,600 of its stores.

Next April, the UK Government will introduce a plastic packaging tax for products containing less than 30% recycled content.

The government is currently consulting on reforms to introduce a deposit return scheme for drinks containers and Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging.

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