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Plastic bag charge to be extended to all shops in England

Fish and chip shops in England that use single-use plastic carrier bags will have to charge 10p per bag from April 2021.

The plastic bag tax came into force in October 2015, requiring businesses that sell goods with over 250 employees to charge a minimum of 5p for the supply of single-use carrier bags.

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), however, were excluded from the mandatory obligation to charge.

Whilst these regulations have been effective, reducing the use of single-use carrier bags by over 95% in the main supermarkets and raising over £180m for good causes, up to 3.2 billion single-use carrier bags are circulated by MSMEs a year.

Following a two month consultation, in which the majority supported an extension of the fee, the government has ruled it will increase the minimum 5p charge to 10p and extend it all businesses as of April 2021.

It is part of the government’s commitment that all plastic packaging placed on the market is recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025, and that all avoidable plastic waste is eliminated by 2042.

Retailers are expected to donate proceeds from plastic bag sales to charity, although it's not compulsory. According to Defra, over £50 million was donated between 2017 and 2018.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all retailers - including smaller shops - already charge a minimum of 5p for plastic bags.

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