Woman holding plastic bags

10p plastic bag charge to come into force on 21 May

The government has announced that the single-use carrier bag charge will be increased from 5p to 10p and expanded to all businesses in England from 21 May.

Introduced in 2015, the charge has seen a 95% cut in plastic bag sales in major supermarkets and it is hoped the increase will help drive down sales further.

As a result of the carrier bag charge, the average person in England now buys just four single-use carrier bags a year from the main supermarkets, compared with 140 in 2014.

By extending the charge to all retailers, it is expected that the use of single-use carrier bags will decrease by 70 to 80% in small and medium-sized businesses.

Small businesses across the country are being urged to prepare themselves for the changes ahead of them coming into force later this month.

It comes as new research finds the charge is overwhelmingly supported by the public, with 95% of people in England acknowledging the wide-ranging benefits to the environment so far.


Commenting, Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow said: “The introduction of the 5p charge has been a phenomenal success, driving down sales of harmful plastic bags in supermarkets by a remarkable 95%.

“We know we must go further to protect our natural environment and oceans, which is why we are now extending this charge to all businesses.                                                                                                                                                                     
“Over the next couple of weeks, I urge all retailers of all sizes to make sure they are ready for the changes, as we work together to build back greener and strengthen our world-leading action to combat the scourge of plastic waste.”

Chief Executive of Association of Convenience Stores, James Lowman added: “We strongly welcome the inclusion of local shops and other small businesses into the successful plastic bag charging scheme, which not only helps the environment, but is also a great way for retailers to raise money for local and national charities.” 

Since the introduction of the charge, retailers have donated over £150m to good causes in charity, volunteering, environment and health sectors.

The government said the move will help the UK build back better and greener from the pandemic, as well as boost the country’s global leadership in tackling climate change and plastic pollution.

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