Plastic bag tax to double with cost rising to 10p for all stores and takeaways

Brits will have to pay 10p for a single-use plastic carrier bag as the price doubles – with the charge being extended to all shops in England.

The fee for plastic carrier bags is set to double from April next year, the Government has announced and small retailers – defined as those employing 250 people or fewer – will no longer be exempt from the levy.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said this decision came after 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 as the department said it has committed to bringing in both changes from April 2021.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: "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, with the most recent figures showing that the number of single-use bags distributed by large supermarkets has fallen more than 95%.

The average person in England now buys just four single-use bags a year, compared to around 140 in 2014.

A Government source told the Mail that "this is the end of the giveaway plastic bag."

The Association of Convenience Stores told the paper that more than 70 per cent of small shops backed the levy being extended to them. 

The trade body said: ‘"Charging for plastic bags is a popular measure with convenience stores, as it not only reduces the use of single-use bags but also allows those retailers to raise more money for local and environmental good causes."

While the move to extend the charge was welcomed by campaigners, Greenpeace said that carriers bag were only "one part of the problem".

Sam Chetan-Welsh, 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.

"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."

CPRE, the countryside charity, called for action to be taken on all single-use items, such as takeaway cups and forks.

Tom Fyans, deputy chief executive, 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."

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