A mandatory 5p charge for single-use plastic bags in England has been confirmed in the Queen’s Speech today.
The levy is already in place in Wales and Northern Ireland while Scotland is due to introduce one later this year. The charge is scheduled to apply in England from October 2015.
More than seven billion single-use plastic carrier bags – or 133 per person – were given out by supermarkets in England in 2012 alone.
The 5p charge is expected to reduce the number of plastic bags distributed across the country following success in Wales, which saw a 76% fall in the year after the charge.
Small and medium-sized firms will however be exempt from the charge “to avoid imposing burdens on start-up and growing businesses in England at a time when the Government is supporting new growth in our economy”.
Retailers are expected to donate the proceeds of the charge to “good causes” and will be required to publish data to show customers what they are being used for.