Plastic bag charge to increase?

Plastic bag charge to increase?

The UK Prime Minister recently announced that the charge for single use plastic bags in England may in future increase from 5p to 10p – and be extended to make charging compulsory for all shops, not just large retailers.

Since its introduction in 2015, the English plastic bag charge has faced criticism for being overly complex compared to equivalent legislation in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland due to the division of retailers into large and small businesses, with charges compulsory for the former but voluntary (though strongly encouraged) for smaller shops. With public opinion so firmly behind the minimisation of plastic waste these days, and many shops making the change to environmentally friendly reusable alternatives to plastic bags, an extension of the English legislation to cover all retailers seems like a common sense idea. More controversial might be the proposal to increase the charge, a move which has not been taken by any other country to have introduced a charge for single use plastic bags.

At present, the government is planning a consultation prior to any changes - so the legislation may ultimately remain as it is. Even so, it has reportedly made a considerable difference with a decrease of 86% in the number of single use plastic bags issued by the seven biggest supermarkets since the introduction of the charge three years ago, and over £50million donated to charity from the plastic bag charge in 2017-18.

Interested in reading more? Try BBC News, or Defra

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