Defra has today (7 May) confirmed the single-use carrier bag charge will be increased from 5p to 10p, and extended to all businesses in England from 21 May.
Since the charge was first brought about in 2015, Defra has reported a 95% cut in plastic bag sales in all major supermarkets.
By extending the charge to all retailers, Defra expects the use of single-use carrier bags will decrease by between 70% to 80% in small and medium-sized businesses.
Small businesses across the country are being urged to “prepare themselves” for the changes ahead of them coming into force on 21 May.
Defra added that as a result of the carrier bag charge, the average person in England now buys just four single-use carrier bags a year from the main supermarkets, compared with 140 in 2014.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The introduction of the 5p charge has been a phenomenal success, driving down sales of harmful plastic bags in supermarkets by a remarkable 95%.
“We know we must go further to protect our natural environment and oceans, which is why we are now extending this charge to all businesses.
“Over the next couple of weeks I urge all retailers of all sizes to make sure they are ready for the changes, as we work together to build back greener and strengthen our world-leading action to combat the scourge of plastic waste.”
The announcement comes as research conducted by Wrap found the charge to be “overwhelmingly supported” by the public, with 95% of people in England acknowledging the benefits.
The report published yesterday (6 May) found that 69% of people were either ‘strongly’ or ‘slightly’ in favour of the charge when it was first introduced, and that has increased now to 73%.