The United Kingdom government has launched a project that would extend the 5-pence plastic bag charge to all retailers and increase the fee to 10 pence.
The plan, announced Dec. 27, follows the successful introduction of the 5-pence charge for plastic bags in 2015, which has seen single use plastic bag sales in major supermarkets drop by 86 percent since then.
The charge has applied only to big business so far. But under the new plan, introduced by the environment secretary Michael Gove, the charge will now apply to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which are estimated to supply over 3.6 billion single-use plastic bags annually.
“The 5-pence 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,” Gove said in announcing the program.
As Gove targeted “further behavior changes” with his new plan, education secretary Damian Hinds also announced Dec. 27 a crackdown on single-use plastics, urging all schools to eliminate their use of single use plastics by 2022.
The two announcements are the latest in a series of attempts by the U.K. government to up its environmental game and crack down on plastic waste during the past year.
Earlier in December, the U.K. unveiled its new Resource and Waste Strategy which covered a range of measures to eliminate “all avoidable plastic waste.” Such measures include a consultation on banning single-use plastic items such as straws, stirrers and cotton swabs and introducing a “producer responsibility” principle which will see businesses and manufacturers paying the full cost of recycling or disposing of their packaging waste.
On a similar note, the U.K. government has also launched a proposedon a deposit return program for all beverage containers, and announced a tax on plastic packaging with less than 30 percent recycled content starting in April 2022.