The price of a plastic carrier bag could be set to double, according to a new proposal put forward by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
The 5p per bag rule, which was introduced to all supermarkets and other major stores last August, would rise to 10p under new legislation, which would also see outlets like corner shops and independent stores begin to charge customers for their bags.
It’s estimated that these smaller businesses hand out around 3.6 billion bags each year. The changes, which have been put forward in a consultation document, would aim to address this number, in context of the wider issue of cutting down on the nation’s plastic waste.
‘The 5p single-use plastic bag carrier charge has been extremely successful in reducing the amount of plastic we use in our everyday lives,’ Michael Gove said of the document.
‘Between us, we have taken over 15billion plastic bags out of circulation. But we want to do even more to protect our precious planet and today’s announcement will accelerate further behaviour change and build on the success of the existing charge.’
If the legislation goes through, the new plastic bag prices could be in place as early as 2020 – and it’s not the only new measure that could come to pass.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds has said he wants headteachers to phase out plastic bags, bottles and food packaging in their schools, in favour of sustainable alternatives. This would mean changes like the straws used for milk switched with reusable beakers, and clingfilm on sandwiches replaced with eco-friendly options.
Georgeham Primary School in Devon has already achieved the status of the first plastic-free school in the country, a move that the secretary called ‘an impressive example’.
‘‘It’s not always easy but we all have a role to play in driving out avoidable plastic waste, and with more schools joining others and leading by example, we can help to leave our planet in a better state than we found it,’ he commented.