5th October 2015
The 5p plastic bag tax introduced in England on Monday 5 October will significantly reduce the billions of one-use bags handed out in England every year.
But the initiative should be extended to smaller stores, said Friends of the Earth.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – retailers employing fewer than 250 staff – are exempt from the English plastic bag charge.
The law has been introduced in order to cut down on plastic bag usage – as some 7.6bn bags are handed out every year.
Last week a poll, published by the Break the Bag Habit coalition, found that the majority of respondents, at 51% were in support of a charge that applied to all retailers.
Welcoming the charge, Friends of the Earth’s Senior resources campaigner, David Powell, said: “This charge will significantly reduce the billions of one-use plastic bags handed out in the UK each year – but it should apply to smaller shops too.
“More than half of people living in England, and the Association of Convenience Stores are supportive of extending the scheme to all retailers. A plastic bag charge is a step in the right direction – but Ministers must do far more to tackle the UK’s huge waste mountain.”
Four years ago Wales started levying 5p per bag and use by customers has since dropped 71% according to the BBC. Scotland and Northern Ireland started charging in 2014 and 2013 respectively and have also seen major drops in usage.