In case you needed another little reminder to take your tote bag out with you each time you leave the house, the government has just announced that single-use plastic bags will now cost 10p in all shops.
People are always looking for small but significant ways to make more eco-friendly decisions in daily life. But it’s become very clear that the high-street has a huge part to play in transforming the way we all use single-use plastic. That’s why, back in 2015, a 5p charge came into effect on single use carrier bags in England.
Since then, we’ve seen high-street brands take further steps: Morrisons and Waitrose announced they will no longer use glitter in their own-brand Christmas products; a complete ban on plastic cotton buds is now in effect; and Waitrose has trialled package-free supermarket shopping.
Scientists have also discovered that grass and maize could be used to make food packaging in supermarkets – something we hope to get an update on soon. And, just last week, Co-op said it is scrapping its ‘bag for life’, after Morrisons announced it would remove all plastic carrier bags from its stores over the next year.
There is still a very, very long way to go in the fight against climate change. But it’s good to see steps being taken by the government and high-street. In fact, the government has confirmed that – because of the success of the 5p single-use plastic bag charge – they’re going to double the fee to 10p, and all stores, including corner shops, will have to apply the charge by 21 May.
As stated in a press release, the number of single-use plastic bag sales has fallen by over 95%: The average person in England now buys just four single-use carrier bags a year from the main supermarkets, compared with 140 in 2014. And the government hopes the use of single-use carrier bags will fall by 70-80% in small and medium-sized businesses after the new charge is put in place.
“The introduction of the 5p charge has been a phenomenal success,” said Environment Minister Rebecca Pow. “We know we must go further to protect our natural environment and oceans, which is why we are now extending this charge to all businesses.
“Over the next couple of weeks I urge all retailers of all sizes to make sure they are ready for the changes, as we work together to build back greener and strengthen our world-leading action to combat the scourge of plastic waste.”
So remember to always have your tote bag with you when you leave the house, just in case.