Cost of supermarket plastic bags set to double in move to further clean up the environment

Single-use plastic bags will double in cost from 5p to 10p in all shops from next April, the Government has announced.

Shoppers will pay more for each bag in an attempt to reduce the UK’s plastic consumption further.

Data suggests the 5p charge, first introduced in 2015, has already reduced plastic bag usage by roughly 95 per cent in major supermarkets.

The Government says the average person in the UK now buys four plastic bags a year, compared to 140 per year in 2014.

Unlike the 2015 charge, which only applies to retailers employing 250 or more full-time staff, the 10p charge will be enforced in all shops from April 2021.

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, said the UK had a “pioneering track record” on plastic bags.

"We have all seen the devastating impact plastic bags have on the oceans and on precious marine wildlife, which is why we are taking bold and ambitious action to tackle this issue head on,” he said.

"The UK is already a world-leader in this global effort, and our carrier bag charge has been hugely successful in taking billions of harmful plastic bags out of circulation. But we want to go further by extending this to all retailers so we can continue to cut unnecessary waste and build back greener.”

Greenpeace, the environmental campaign group, said the move was a “small step” in the right direction but called for more action, especially against major corporate producers of plastic and bags for life.

“Reinstating the previous price of carrier bags, but not taking action on bags for life, is only looking at one part of the problem,” a spokesman said.

“And it could be construed as tokenism when there are so many ways ministers know they could be driving fast and substantial reductions on plastic pollution.

“If they're increasing costs for shoppers, ministers really have no excuse not to increase costs for the companies that are responsible for the escalating volumes of single-use plastic packaging in the first place."

Carrie Symonds, the Prime Minister’s partner, campaigns on environmental issues including plastic pollution.

Ms Symonds has criticised Amazon for the quantity of plastic included in their online delivery boxes after she gave birth to the couple’s son, Wilfred.

The UK-wide 5p cost of plastic bags came after devolved parliaments in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland introduced a levy in 2011, 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Dr Laura Foster, Head of Clean Seas at the Marine Conservation Society, said the levy had a noticeable effect on plastic in the UK’s waters.

“It’s encouraging to see the Government take further steps in reducing our reliance on single-use plastic bags,” she said.

“Since the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge we’ve seen a more than 60 per cent drop in the number of plastic bags on the UK’s beaches.

“It’s so important we reduce our reliance on single use items and we move to a culture of reuse. This increased charge, and extending to all retailers, will help remind people of everyday, simple changes they can make to help the marine environment.”

Source: The Telegraph