Great Britain

Plastic bag charge to DOUBLE to 10p from 5p in all shops later this month

THE plastic bag charge is set to double from 5p to 10p and will apply to all shops on May 21, the government has confirmed.

Up until now, corner shops and smaller stores have been exempt from the plastic bag levy, which aims to stop the huge pile up of bags in landfill.

The increased charge was first announced by ministers last August, and has now been confirmed by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Since the levy was introduced in England in 2015, the number of single-use bags sold in the major supermarkets has fallen by 95%.

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

By extending the charge to all shops, the use of single-use carrier bags is expected to drop by 70% to 80% in small and medium-sized businesses.

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The government is now urging businesses to get ready for the change over the next couple of weeks.

If businesses don't comply with the rules, they risk being hit with a fine.

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.

It comes as Morrisons is taking the war on plastic one step further by replacing all plastic bags for life with resuable ones that cost 30p.

Earlier this year, Asda also scrapped free plastic bags for veg, and shoppers now have to bring their own or pay 30p for a reusable one.

Meanwhile, John Lewis plans to trial 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 they can buy a reusable bag costing between 50p and 75p depending on the size.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: "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."

While James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: "We strongly welcome the inclusion of local shops and other small businesses into the successful plastic bag charging scheme.

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

In October, Tesco doubled the price of its plastic bags to 20p in a bid to encourage shoppers to bring their own. 

Meanwhile, drinks companies could be asked to pay for managing and recycling the packaging they produce in a bid to cut plastic waste.

Plastic waste dumped in oceans is expected to TRIPLE in just 20 years – with 50 kilos of rubbish for every metre of coast.

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