The minimum price of plastic bags in stores and supermarkets will double

Fees for plastic bags are expected to double from April next year, with the fee being extended to all stores in England, the government said.

Small retailers – defined as those employing 250 people or less – will no longer be exempt from the tax, the Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

Following a public consultation last year, in which the “vast majority” of respondents welcomed the changes, the minimum tariff for single-use carry bags will be increased to 10 pence.

The ministry said it is committed to implementing both changes from April 2021.

Environment Secretary George Eustice, who is MP for Camborne and Redruth, said: “The UK is already a world leader in this global effort, and our carry bag tax has helped remove billions of harmful plastic bags out of circulation.

“But we want to go further by extending this to all retailers so that we can continue to reduce unnecessary waste and build greener again.

“I hope our experience of pioneering single-use plastics will inspire many other countries to follow suit, so that together we can tackle plastic waste and implement lasting change. “

The 5 pence tax on plastic bags was introduced in England in 2015, with the most recent figures showing the number of single-use bags distributed by large supermarkets has fallen by more than 95%.

The average person in England now only buys four single-use bags per year, up from around 140 in 2014.

While the decision to expand the charge was welcomed by campaigners, Greenpeace said the transport bags were only “part of the problem”.

Sam Chetan-Welsh, political activist at Greenpeace, said: “By raising the price of plastic bags again, the government is taking a small step in the right direction, but it should now make great strides.

“Restoring the previous price of the carrier bags, but not taking action for the lifetime bags, only addresses part of the problem.

“And it could be interpreted as a symbolic act when there are so many ways ministers know they could lead to rapid and substantial reductions in plastic pollution.”

“If they increase costs for buyers, ministers really have no excuse not to increase costs for the companies that are responsible for increasing the volumes of single-use plastic packaging in the first place.”

CPRE, the rural charity, called for action to be taken for all single-use items, such as take-out cups and forks.

Tom Fyans, deputy managing director, said: “To really escalate and tackle the war on plastics, the government should impose fees on all single-use disposable items – from take-out cups to wooden forks.

“Encouraging reuse systems and finally committing to an all-inclusive security deposit system for beverage containers are the only ways the government can achieve a waste-free campaign and win the war on waste.” “

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