Two years after the government introduced a 5p charge on plastic bags, the cost to carry your groceries in shop-bough carriers is set to double.
The government has revealed new plans to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags instead of single-use plastics.
The proposals will be included in a paper which will go out for consultation at the end of 2018 – but are said to have already been approved by Michael Gove and the Prime Minister, reports Kent Live .
A 5p charge on plastic bags was introduced in October 2015 and has reduced the use of plastic bags by 85%.
According to The Mirror in 2017 alone, the 5p charges raised £58million for charities and good causes in England.
At the moment, shops with less than 250 employees have been exempt from the charge but according to the Daily Mail and Telegraph this could change under the new laws.
It now means smaller retailers will also have to charge for carrier bags, who could put up some resistance to the levy as they try to complete with larger supermarkets.
But what do the big four make of the changes? Here’s what they had to say about the 10p charge.
Earlier this year, Asda said it will scrap all 5p carrier bags from its stores by the end of this year.
The supermarket also pledged to limit plastic, with cheap re-usable coffee cups coming in and plastic cutlery and cups disappearing from cafes and offices.
“Where we are able to go faster and harder to remove avoidable plastics from our products, we will,” said Asda chief executive Roger Burnley.
“Our logic is to remove plastic wherever we can, and where it is required, to make it as recyclable as possible.”
“We are going to change the polystyrene bases in our pizzas to cardboard, removing 178 tonnes of plastic from customers’ homes,” Burnley said.
“We will eliminate single use coffee cups and plastic cutlery from our Home Offices completely by the end of this year.
“Plus, we’ll be launching a ‘zero profit’ reusable coffee cup to help customers reduce their reliance on single use cups while we work to remove these from our shops and cafes by the end of 2019.”
Asda has produced a full mission statement on how they plan to cut plastic, that you can read here .
Morrisons said it would begin phasing out the 5p plastic bags nationally in March this year.
Its stores still sell bags ranging from 10p to £2. Reusable bags cost 10p, woven bags will be charged at 35p, while an insulated bag is £2.
Morrisons has been a big advocate of cutting plastic waste and has implemented a number of measures to tackle the issue over the last year, including bringing back traditional brown paper bags for loose fruit and veg in its greengrocery area, allowing customers to use their own containers for meat and fish and working through all of its own brand products to remove any unnecessary plastic packaging.
It has also been trialling the effect of removing plastic packaging from fruit and vegetables in a number of stores, with the aim to look at how plastic packaging, which keeps food fresh, can be reduced without increasing food waste.
As well as this, the supermarket has been fitting drinking water fountains into new stores. And Morrisons has already made water freely available in its cafes for customers who want to refill their water bottles.
Sainsbury’s and Tesco
Sainsbury’s removed single use carrier bags from its stores when the 5p levy was introduced back in 2015 and Tesco followed suit in August 2017.
A statement on the Sainsbury’s website reads: “Just as we’re committed to reducing packaging, we also want to help our customers use less plastic bags, in order to help the environment.
“So, after the government introduced a 5p levy on single-use plastic bags, we went further than other major retailers and stopped offering them altogether in our stores.
“Instead, we offer reusable ‘bags for life’ charged at 5p or 10p. These are made of 100 per cent recycled content and are entirely recyclable. So, when they do wear down, we replace them for free, while recycling the old bag to be used again.”
While a Tesco statement adds: “We encourage our customers to bring their own recyclable bags.
“Single use carrier bags have been replaced by a new Bag for Life, priced at 10p and made from 94 per cent recyclable plastic. Customers can have their Bag for Life replaced for free if broken or damaged – just bring it in to your nearest store.”
The supermarket is working through their ‘Little Helps Plan’ which attempts reduce the amount of plastic packaging it uses. This includes commitments to remove all packaging that is hard to recycle from the business by 2019, making all packaging fully recyclable or compostable by 2025, ensuring that all paper and board used will be 100 per cent sustainable by 2025 and halving packaging weight by 2025 compared to 2007 levels.
Almost eight billion tons of plastic could be in landfill
Both government and public opinion in relation to plastic has changed since BBC”s Blue Planet II highlighted how litter is affecting the world’s oceans.
Government figures show that every year Britain throws away enough single-use plastics to fill the Royal Albert Hall 1,000 times over.
MPs are also encouraging ministers to introduces a 25p ‘latte levy’ on coffee cups.
More than eight billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s and most of it now lies buried in landfills or litters the oceans and countryside, shocking research has revealed.
The US researchers conducted the world’s first analysis of the production, use and fate of plastic from the start of its large-scale manufacture.
They found that by 2015 humans had generated 8.3 billion tonnes of the material, 6.3 billion tonnes of which had already become waste.
Of all the waste plastic, only 9% had been recycled and 12% incinerated, while 79% had accumulated in landfills or the natural environment.