Plastic bags: Charge could rise to 10p and be extended to all shops

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The plastic bag fee could be rising to 10p – with all shops in England having to charge.

Since October 2015, customers have had to pay at least 5p for each single-use bag, with all retailers employing more than 250 people made to take part in the scheme.

But now it might be extended to all shops with the charge set at 10p, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced.

The change is part of the government’s plan to tackle plastic pollution.

Currently, it is estimated that more than three billion bags are supplied by small and medium companies every year.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, smaller retailers already charge for plastic bags.

Mrs May said: “We have taken huge strides to improve the environment, and the charge on plastic bags in supermarkets and big retailers has demonstrated the difference we can achieve by making small changes to our everyday habits.

“I want to leave a greener, healthier environment for future generations, but with plastic in the sea still set to treble we know we need to do more to better protect our oceans and eliminate this harmful What’s happened since the charge was introduced?

The number of single-use plastic carrier bags handed out by supermarkets in England has drastically decreased.

In 2014 – before the charge was introduced – the seven main retailers (Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-Operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose) handed out the equivalent of 140 plastic bags per person.

In 2016-17, that fell to 24 bags, falling further to 19 bags in 2017-18.

Since the fee was introduced, the number of disposable carrier bags given out by the seven biggest supermarket chains has decreased by 86% overall, according to official figures. In total, 13 billion plastic bags have been taken out of circulation in the past two years.

Campaigners say single use plastic bags take 1,000 years to break down and can be extremely damaging to marine wildlife.

The charge is not a tax, so the money does not go to the government. While retailers are given the choice on what to do with the money, they are expected to give it to good causes.

Between April 2016 and 2017, 4.3p was donated to good causes for every 5p bag sold, according to the two-thirds of retailers who voluntarily gave information about where the money went. These retailers donated more than £58.5m to good causes in total in that time.

 

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