Plastic bag charge to rise to 10p and extend to all shops

7 May 2021, 00:00

The plastic bag charge will double to 10p from May 21, it has been confirmed
The plastic bag charge will double to 10p from May 21, it has been confirmed. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The charge for a single-use carrier bag will double to 10p and be extended to all businesses in England from May 21, it has been confirmed,

A 5p levy on plastic bags was introduced in England in 2015, and recent figures have shown it has cut down single-use bags being distributed by large supermarkets by over 95%.

Previously only businesses with 250 employees or more had to charge per bag and smaller shops could chose to do so voluntarily.

Under the extension, all stores, including corner shops, will have to apply the charge.

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

Under the extension, all stores, including corner shops, will have to apply the charge
Under the extension, all stores, including corner shops, will have to apply the charge. Picture: PA

A survey in December for waste and resources body Wrap found 73% of consumers supported the levy.

However, the same poll found that 26% of consumers still buy single-use bags at the till when shopping for food.

By extending the charge to all retailers, it is expected that the use of single-use carrier bags will decrease by 70% to 80% in small and medium-sized businesses, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

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The 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, which not only helps the environment, but is also a great way for retailers to raise money for local and national charities."

John Lewis said it was trialling the removal of single-use bags from its Cheltenham, Kingston and Leeds stores from May 21.

Customers will be asked to bring their own bags or buy a reusable bag made from 100% recyclable material costing 50p for a medium size and 75p for a large size.

Marija Rompani, director of ethics and sustainability for the John Lewis Partnership, said: "It has become the norm to take our own bags when we go food shopping but we have a different mindset when shopping for clothes, beauty and home products.

"We expect our customers will be supportive of this change and will be listening to their feedback."

Icaro surveyed 2,010 adults in England for Wrap in December.