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5p plastic bag tax introduced 

England is finally catching up with the rest of the UK with the new plastic bag charge. Image: Surfers Against Sewage

Large shops in England will be required to charge 5p for all single-use plastic carrier bags from today. The change is overdue, but “half-baked” say some environmental campaigners.

The 5p plastic bag charge, which is being introduced in England today is a welcome development, but should not only apply to big retailers, say those at Friends of the Earth. 

Friends of the Earth’s senior resources campaigner, David Powell, said: “Charging for plastic bags has made a massive difference in the rest of the UK, so it’s about time England caught up. 

“The English charge is a good start, but it makes no sense that it only applies to big retailers. Shoppers will get mixed messages depending on where they shop. This could defeat the main point of the charge in the first place – to change the way people and stores think about over-using plastic bags.”

 Small and medium-sized enterprises retailers employing fewer than 250 staff are exempt from the English plastic bag charge. A poll published recently by the Break the Bag Habit coalition, found that 51 per cent of respondents were in support of a charge that applied to all retailers.

“Reducing plastic bag use is a visible and important measure, but it’s hardly job done. From the oceans of pointless plastic wrapping our food and consumer goods, to flat-lining household recycling rates, England has a very long way to go if it’s serious about keeping waste out of our land, rivers and seas.” 

By Lucy

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