Plastic bag charge Defra – the Government is looking at plans to increase the minimum charge for retailers issuing single-use carrier bags to 10p, as well as extending the charge to cover smaller shops. At the moment, the 5p charge only applies to larger retailers; but according to the government over 3.6 billion single-use plastic bags are supplied annually by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which are currently not covered by the legislation. The scheme aims to reduce the use of single-use plastic carrier bags, and the litter associated with them, by encouraging people to re-use bags.
Plastic bag charge Defra – Plastic carrier bags have a significant impact on the environment and can take between 400 to 1,000 years to break down in the environment. As it breaks down, plastic particles contaminate soil and waterways and enter the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them. Government scientists believe plastic in the sea is set to treble in a decade unless marine litter is curbed – with one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals dying every year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.
In his statement on 27th December, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:
“The 5p single use plastic carrier bag charge has been extremely successful in reducing the amount of plastic we use in our everyday lives. Between us, we have taken over 15 billion plastic bags out of circulation. But we want to do even more to protect our precious planet and today’s announcement will accelerate further behaviour change and build on the success of the existing charge.”
Trade bodies representing around 40,000 small retailers have already launched a voluntarily approach to a 5p charge, but this accounts for less than one-fifth of England’s estimated 253,000 SMEs.
Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said:
“We welcome the Government’s plans to extend carrier bag charging to all shops. This has been shown to be highly effective at reducing waste, whilst also raising money for local, national and environmental charities. Around half of small shops in England already charge for plastic bags voluntarily, with wider support for a mandatory charge.
Launch of the consultation follows on from the release of the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, which outlined the long term policy vision for waste reduction and recycling (see letsrecycle.com story).
The consultation will run until 22 February 2019.