Plastic carrier bag charge doubles from 5p to 10p as it is extended to all shops in England

Average household now uses four bags a year, compared to around 140 before

<p>It is hoped the use of single-use carrier bags will fall by 70-80 per cent in small and medium-sized businesses</p>

It is hoped the use of single-use carrier bags will fall by 70-80 per cent in small and medium-sized businesses

The charge for plastic bags has been doubled to 10p and extended to all shops in England to reduce plastic waste.

By extending the charge to all retailers, it is hoped the use of single-use carrier bags will fall by 70-80 per cent in small and medium-sized businesses.

The change, which came into effect on Friday, is expected to boost the UK economy by almost £300m over the next 10 years, according to the government.

Since the 5p charge was introduced in 2015, there has been a 95 per cent drop in plastic bag sales in major supermarkets.

Before the policy was introduced, the average household used around 140 single-use plastic carrier bags a year, but that number has now fallen to just four.

It has also helped raise almost £180m for good causes. Last year, from the £9.2m reported, around 30 per cent went to the charity, volunteering, environment and health sectors. Meanwhile, 49 per cent went to causes chosen by customers or staff, and 21 per cent went to a combination of good causes.

The environment minister, Rebecca Pow, said: “Everyone wants to play their part in reducing the scourge of plastic waste that blights our environment and oceans. The 5p bag charge has been hugely successful, but we can go further.

“From today we will increase the charge to 10p and extend it to all businesses. This will support the ambitious action we have already taken in our fight against plastic as we build back greener.

“We have banned the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, banned microbeads in personal care products, and we are consulting on a new deposit-return scheme for drinks containers.”

Helen Bird, strategic engagement manager at the charity WRAP, said: “The introduction of a charge has had a significant influence in reducing the number of bags purchased at stores. I’m confident that the increase to 10p and the extension across all shops will continue this decline.

“However, there are reports of increased purchasing of so-called ‘bags for life’, likely being used just once. To truly benefit the planet, bags, regardless of what they are made from, need to be reused many times over. Once they are worn out they can be recycled, or in the case of ‘bags for life’, replaced for free by supermarkets.”

However, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has calculated that the increased rate will cost consumers £1.03bn over the next decade, due to hidden costs caused by the increased use of paper bags and VAT paid on the charge.

Danielle Boxall, media campaign manager at the TPA, said: “While the charge has helped cut down the use of carrier bags, it’s still shoppers paying the price.

“Moving on from plastic bags will bring many benefits, but politicians cannot pretend this hasn’t hiked the cost of living for hard-pressed households.

“The move to online shopping during the pandemic may do more for cutting carrier bag use than this new 10p charge.”

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