Plastic bag charge has been 'tremendous' says George Eustice
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Plastic bags have become a much-vilified item in recent years due to their negative impact on the environment. Shoppers have been motivated to steer clear of the single-use bags after a charge was slapped on store carrier bags, hiking up the cost of a shop. Until this month, only retailers with 250 employees or more had to charge for plastic bags.
Small or medium-sized businesses were able to charge and follow the scheme voluntarily.
However, a new rule introduced on April 1 and hitting Easter shoppers this weekend means all shops must now demand the fee.
All retailers, including convenience stores, now should charge 10p for single-use plastic bags.
This is double the cost of the 5p plastic bags before the new measure was brought in on Thursday.
The country has arguably been given plenty of warning.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) detailed in its 2018 paper ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’: “We want to extend the scheme so that small retailers also charge for bags.”
However, the new rule might prove frustrating for those trying to save the pennies and who forget to take a reusable bag along on their shop.
Defra previously advised: “As a shopper, you can avoid being charged by bringing your own bags.
“In some shops, you can buy thicker, reusable ‘bags for life’.
“Typically, you pay for these once, and can return them for a free replacement when they wear out.”
The charge comes as Defra continues to fight against plastic pollution.
“In 2014 over 7.6 billion single-use plastic bags were given to customers by major supermarkets in England,” said the Department.
“That’s something like 140 bags per person, the equivalent of about 61,000 tonnes in total.
“They take longer than other bags to degrade in the environment, can damage wildlife, and are extremely visible when littered in our towns, parks and the countryside.”
Defra explained that since it introduced the scheme, the number of bags used has gone down by more than 80 percent in England.
Over the next 10 years, the benefits of the scheme are set to be great.
– an expected overall benefit of over £780million to the UK economy
– up to £730million raised for good causes
– £60million savings in litter clean-up costs
– carbon savings of £13million
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