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UK looks to increase plastic bag charge

A consultation will take place later this year to explore whether to double the popular plastic bag charge and extend it to small retailers as part of new commitments to tackle marine litter.

A consultation will take place later this year to explore whether to double the popular plastic bag charge and extend it to small retailers as part of new commitments to tackle marine litter.

The announcement was made by the Prime Minister on 30 August during a visit to Kenya, which has implemented some of the strictest laws on the planet - including lengthy prison sentences - to tackle its plastic waste crisis.

To increase action at home, Theresa May confirmed that her government plans to increase the plastic bag levy from 5p to 10p and make it applicable to retailers of all sizes, not just large businesses. 

Spotlight on small business

Plastic bag sales in England’s ‘big seven’ supermarkets have dropped by 86 per cent since the charge was put in place in 2015, taking 13 billion bags out of circulation. 

An extension to all retailers would help tackle the estimated three billion plastic bags still estimated to be supplied by small and medium sized enterprises a year. 

A survey of 1,000 consumers taken before the original 5p charge was put in place found that the majority of people were supportive of small businesses joining the initiative.

‘We need to do more’

The Prime Minister said: “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.

“I want to leave a greener, healthier environment for future generations, but with plastic in the sea still set to treble we know we need to do more to better protect our oceans and eliminate this harmful waste.”