The UK government has increased the price of single-use plastic bags for all businesses in England from 5p to 10p, with the aim of reducing plastic pollution.
The new measure will be enforced from 21 May, with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs saying the charge helped drive down 95% plastic bag sales since it was first introduced in 2015.
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 70-80% in small and medium-sized businesses.
A new survey by charity WRAP shows that 69% of respondents were either ‘strongly’ or ‘slightly’ in favour of the charge when it was first introduced, and that has increased now to 73%.
Two-thirds said they used a ‘bag-for-life’ – either fabric or more durable plastic – to take their shopping home for a large food shop in-store, with only 14% using a single-use carrier bag.
“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,” said James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores.