Plastic litter in the ocean Rich Carey

Plastic bag charge to increase in England

1 minute read

Erin O'Neill

11 May 2021

In an effort to curb the amount of plastic entering our seas, the charge for single-use plastic carrier bags is set to increase from 5p to 10p on 21 May 2021.

This will affect all businesses in England, having previously only been compulsory for businesses with 250 employees or more.

We’ve seen a 60% drop in the number of plastic bags on UK beaches since the 5p carrier bag charge was introduced, and it's fantastic to see government taking further steps to reduce the number of single-use plastic bags sold.

Plastic bags in the ocean Rich Carey

Credit: Rich Carey via Shutterstock

Our Head of Clean Seas, Dr Laura Foster, said: “It’s great the government is including all retailers in the new price increase to 10p. We welcome the steps that some retailers have already done to phase out bags for life – replacing one single-use item by another, particularly when it’s a heavier plastic, doesn't make sense.”

“We don't want bags for life to become the new single-use bag.”

Plastic bags that enter our ocean can tangle marine wildlife or be mistakenly eaten by species like turtles. Microplastics can also enter our waterways from plastic materials that are left in our seas.

The average person in England now buys just four single-use bags a year, compared to around 140 in 2014.

Stores including branches of John Lewis in Cheltenham, Kingston and Leeds are trialling removal of single-use bags altogether, asking customers to bring their own or to buy a reusable bag.

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