Maria Caulfield MP backs increase in plastic bag charge

Lewes MP Maria Caulfield has back government plans to double charges for single use plastic bags and include more shops in the scheme from April 2021.

Since the charge was first introduced in 2015, the Government has successfully prevented billions of plastic bags being sold and ending up in the ocean and environment. The latest statistics show the current levy, which stands at 5p and applies to any retailer employing 250 or more people, has led to a 95 per cent cut in plastic bag sales in major supermarkets since 2015.

This announcement, which marks the latest move to clamp down on plastic pollution, will drive this success even further and take us closer to the government’s ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste through the 25 Year Environment Plan and build back greener after coronavirus.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said “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. 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. I hope our pioneering track record on single-use plastics will inspire many more countries to follow suit, so we can take on plastic waste together and implement lasting change.”

Maria Caulfield MP said “The 5p charge for carrier bags in larger shops has been a huge success, has drastically reduced the amount of single use plastic bags that we are buying and as a result seen an environmental impact that we can all be proud of. Now it is right that we look to take this even further and bring in small retailers to take part. Alongside increasing the charge for single use plastic bags from 5p to 10p we can further discourage people from buying them. This is environmental action from government is clearly working and taking it further is something I wholeheartedly support.”

As a result of the carrier bag charge, the average person in England now buys just four bags a year from the main supermarkets, compared with 140 in 2014. By extending the charge to all retailers, ministers want to see bag usage cut significantly in small shops as well, with customers incentivised to use long-life bags made from more sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials.