Government to consult on increasing plastic bag charge

The 5p charge on plastic bags could rise to 10p with all retailers participating in the scheme.

The 5p charge on plastic bags could rise to 10p with all retailers participating in the scheme.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced that a consultation on the plans will begin later this year. The charge, a Liberal Democrat-led initiative when the party was part of the coalition government, was introduced in 2015 but limited to stores with more than 250 employees.

May said: “We have taken huge strides to improve the environment, and the charge on plastic bags in supermarkets and big retailers has demonstrated the difference we can achieve by making small changes to our everyday habits.”

Proceeds raised by the charge are intended to go to good causes. A government survey of 249 stores found that £51m was raised for good causes in the last financial year.

However, retailers are permitted to deduct “reasonable costs” for the charge. In addition, 0.83p of the charge is VAT and goes to the Treasury.

The move to allow all retailers to participate will come as no surprise to the industry – it was floated at the start of the year.

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