The UK government has launched a consultation to increase the 5p plastic bag charge to 10p, as well as extend it to all retailers in a move to reduce their usage.
The government has made the decision as it identified that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the country are using more than 3.6 billion single-use plastic bags annually.
According to the government, the consultation is aimed at exploring the possibility of encouraging further behaviour change by increasing the 5p minimum charge to 10p. The consultation will be open for eight weeks.
UK 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.”
The 5p charge rule, introduced in October 2015, currently applies only to major retailers. It has seen an 86% reduction in single-use plastic bag sales across major supermarkets.
Commenting on the decision, 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 the small shops in England already charge for plastic bags voluntarily, with wider support for a mandatory charge.”
In a move to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, the government has recently introduced various measures including the Resources and Waste Strategy, ban on microbeads, a consultation on restricting the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, and more.