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Plastic bag tax to double and apply to all retailers

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The single-use plastic bag charge will be extended to all retailers and could rise to at least 10p per bag, the Government has announced.

The Government is proposing that the 5p plastic bag charge should be extended to all retailers and not just big businesses and is planning further consultation later this year to explore the possibility of increasing the minimum charge to 10p.

The proposed increase follows recent research showing the number of plastic bags sold in larger major supermarket chains has fallen by over 80% since the 5p levy was introduced in 2015. This is equivalent to just 19 bags in 2016/17 per person in England, compared with 140 bags each before the Government introduced the charge.

Launching the proposals, the Prime Minister, Theresa May said the success of the current scheme is already making a difference but more needs to be done. “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.”

Plastic bags have a significant impact on the marine environment, with millions of seabirds and over 100,000 sea mammals dying every year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste. But Government scientist says the problem is getting worse, with the amount of plastic entering the seas predicted to treble in the next decade, unless marine litter is curbed.

President of the Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN), Mike Mitchelson, welcomed the announcement that the 5p plastic bag levy is likely to be extended to smaller shops.

Independent retailers are environmentally friendly and like to play their part in reducing plastic waste so many of our members have already chosen to implement the 5p charge. As a result, they have been delighted to donate the proceeds from the charge to local and worthy good causes. The 5p charge has made a huge difference to plastic bag usage and all independent retailers can look forward to playing their part in reducing further waste and raise money for local charities.”

Earlier this year, the Government introduced a ban on some products containing microbead plastics and also announced its intention to ban the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds. Plans for a deposit-return scheme to increase recycling rates of drinks bottles and cans is also being considered.

Last reviewed 3 September 2018

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