By Jamie White – Head of Communications
From today (Monday) many shoppers in England will have to pay 5p for plastic carrier bags.
The new rule has been introduced by the Government, which expects the scheme to cut the use of plastic carrier bags by up to 80% in supermarkets and by 50% on the High Street.
Retailers with 250 or more employees must charge at least 5p for the bags they provide for shopping in stores and for deliveries, but smaller shops and paper bags are exempt.
Free bags will still be provided for consumers buying uncooked meat, poultry or fish, prescription medicine, certain fresh produce and unwrapped ready-to-eat food. Free bags will also still be issued at shops in airports, on board trains, aeroplanes or ships.
It is expected to save £60m in litter clean-up costs as well as generate £730m for good causes over the next decade.
An estimated 7.6 billion plastic bags were handed out by major supermarkets in 2014 – the equivalent of 140 per person and 61,000 tonnes in total, according to the Government.