UK to double plastic carrier bag charge, extend it to all retailers

31 August 2020 (Last Updated September 4th, 2020 10:00)

The UK Government has decided to double the price of single-use plastic carrier bags to 10p from April next year.

UK to double plastic carrier bag charge, extend it to all retailers
England retailers to charge 10p for single use plastic bags. Credit: Sophia Marston via unsplash.

The UK Government has decided to double the price of single-use plastic carrier bags to 10p from April next year.

The decision will also be extended to all retailers in England and follows a public consultation that received positive response from the majority of respondents.

The move is part of the government’s efforts to prevent plastic waste from polluting the ocean and environment.

The Single Use Carrier Bags Charges (England) Order 2015, which came into force in October the same year, currently requires businesses selling goods with over 250 employees to charge a minimum of 5p for single-use carrier bags.

All retailers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, including smaller shops already charge a minimum of 5p for plastic bags.

However, the regulation does not cover micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

Whilst these regulations have been effective, reducing the use of single-use carrier bags by over 95% in the main supermarkets and raising over £180m for good causes, many single-use carrier bags are still supplied by MSMEs.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “We have all seen the devastating impact plastic bags have on the oceans and on precious marine wildlife, which is why we are taking bold and ambitious action to tackle this issue head on.

“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 UK has committed to make all plastic packaging on the market being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. It also plans to eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042.”

In July this year, the Government of Wales enhanced its sustainability commitment as it plans to ban single use plastic including straws, stirrers, cotton buds, balloon sticks, plates, cutlery, food and drinks containers made of expanded polystyrene; and products made from oxo-degradable plastic.