Minimum plastic carrier bag fee will rise from 5p to 10p in UK

The minimum 5p fee for a plastic carrier bag at supermarkets and some other shops is set to rise to 10p, the UK government announced. Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced the consultation to extend the 5p plastic bag charge to all shops. He also said that the charge would double to 10p.

Plastic bags contaminate our environment. According to government scientists, plastic in our oceans is set to treble within a decade if we do not take drastic measures.

Approximately 100,000 sea mammals and one million birds die annually from consuming and getting tangled in plastic waste.



Plastic bag fee applies to just big retailers

The 5p fee for a plastic carrier bag currently applies just to large retailers. SMEs, however, supply more than 3.6 billion single-use plastic bags annually, according to estimates. SME stands for small and medium-sized enterprise.

Trade bodies that represent approximately 40,000 small shops have launched a voluntary 5p per plastic bag charge. However, this is less than one-fifth of the country’s 253,000 SMEs.

plastic carrier bag and turtle
Plastic waste is destroying marine life at an alarming rate. (Image: erc.europa.eu)

The Rt. Hon. Michael Gove said:

“The 5p single-use plastic carrier bag charge has been extremely successful in reducing the amount of plastic we use in our everyday lives. Between us, we have taken over 15 billion plastic bags out of circulation.”

“But we want to do even more to protect our precious planet and today’s announcement will accelerate further behaviour change and build on the success of the existing charge.”



James Lowman, Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said:

“We welcome the Government’s plans to extend carrier bag charging to all shops. This has been shown to be highly effective at reducing waste, whilst also raising money for local, national and environmental charities.”

“Around half of small shops in England already charge for plastic bags voluntarily, with wider support for a mandatory charge.”



Smithsonian Image of Albatross
According to the Smithsonian, the official journal of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.: “Many birds accidentally eat plastic and other marine debris floating in the ocean, mistaking it for food.” (Image: ocean.si.edu)

5p plastic bag charge introduced in 2015

The 5p plastic carrier bag fee was introduced in 2015. Since 2015, sales of single-use plastic bags in major supermarkets declined by 86%. This is equivalent to nineteen bags per person in 2017/18 in England. Before the introduction of the fee, the figure was 140 plastic carrier bags per person.

We refer to the contamination of oceans, rivers, lakes, groundwater, and aquifers as water pollution.