The 5p plastic bag levy is to be extended as part of Government plans to tackle “throwaway culture” in a 25-year Environment Plan being published later this week.
The extended plan would encompass small businesses including corner shops and cover almost all plastic bags. Currently, shops with fewer than 250 staff are exempt.
Briefing senior ministers at Cabinet on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Theresa May said she wanted her Government to take a stand against the “profligate” use of natural resources.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove told colleagues that the introduction of a 5p charge on single-use plastic bags had contributed to a reduction of nearly 90 per cent in their use, in a clear demonstration of what can be achieved by targeted official action.
A consultation on extending the charge is to be part of the plan, witt one option that it be rolled out on a voluntary basis.
Mr Gove said the Government was “determined to tackle the throwaway culture which plastics encapsulate” and its plan would set out details of how to reduce demand for them.
The Conservatives pledged to come up with the 25-year plan in 2015, and it is now about a year-and-a-half overdue.
Ms May told the Cabinet the Government had “a clear belief in conserving what is good and standing up against the profligate use of resources, whether that is public money or natural resources”.
The proposal would “send a strong message to the public about the Government’s commitment to be the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than it inherited".
It follows after Ms May unveiled plans last weekend to plant 50 million trees in a “Northern Forest” stretching along the M62 corridor between Liverpool and Hull over the coming 25 years.
The goal is to boost habitat for wildlife including birds and bats, protect species such as the red squirrel and provide more access to woodlands for millions of people living in the area.
Last year a separate new forest was proposed at Doddington North Moor. More than 600,000 trees, a mixture of broadleaf and conifers consisting mainly of spruce, birch, pine and oak are to be planted in Northumberland over the next two years.
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