5p Plastic Bag Charge To Be Extended To Small Shops

Christopher Furlong via Getty Images                   The government's successful 5p plastic bag charge is to be extended to small shops

They will form part of the Government's 25-year Environment Plan being published tomorrow.

May and environment secretary Michael Gove are said to have briefed the cabinet on the plan on Tuesday.

Consumers in England could find themselves paying 5p for plastic bags in nearly all shops under new Government plans.

Shops with fewer than 250 employees are now exempt from the charge, which since being introduced in England in October 2015 has cut plastic use.

The charge applies to every new plastic bag used at large stores in England - but only shops or chains with 250 or more full-time employees.

The Government will set out its long-term plans for the environment later this week as Theresa May tries to reassert her party's green credentials.

Mrs May is expected to unveil plans to extend the 5p plastic bag charge to all small shops.

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Ms May told the Cabinet the Government had "a clear belief in conserving what is good and standing up against the profligate use of resources, whether that is public money or natural resources".

A consultation on the levy's extension is expected.

The only exemptions for the extended 5p levy are likely to be some pharmacies and pet shops selling goldfish.

He will set out goals to emulate the success of the 5p plastic bag tax, which has led to a 90 per cent reduction in use. "We have long campaigned for the charge to be extended to all retailers in England, as is already the case in Scotland and Wales, and would welcome steps to make the charge universal", he said.

Mr Gove is also understood to be considering proposals to encourage retailers to use fewer types of plastic and to persuade councils to adopt a standardised recycling policy.

Together, the two measures are meant to ensure that a greater proportion of the packaging used in the United Kingdom can be recycled.