The final year of this Parliament will see legislation introduced for a plastic bag charge in England.
In her speech to Parliament announcing the Government’s plans until next year’s General Election, the Queen said that a charge will be introduced to “reduce the use of plastic carrier bags to help protect the environment”.
As planned, the Government intends to launch the 5p charge on all single-use carrier bags in England from October 2015.
Paper bags will be exempt, while small- and medium-sized businesses will not need to implement the charge.
Those retailers that are eligible will be encouraged to donate the money received from the charge to good causes, and the Government will work with them to produce a voluntary agreement on this.
Defra is currently running a competition for UK industry to produce a genuinely biodegradable carrier bag that meets defined criteria and can be identified and separated in waste recovery and treatment operations. This bag will also be exempt.
Eco Plastics founder and deputy chairman Jonathan Short said that the money from the charge should be used to fund a recycling awareness campaign.
He said: “Revenue from the 5p plastic bag charge should be invested in a public awareness campaign to increase household recycling across the UK for the economic and environmental benefit of local communities. Recycled waste is valuable and communities should be benefitting from it, yet the greatest barrier to effective recycling is still public confusion about what can and cannot be recycled.
“Research shows that people recycle more when they understand what can be recycled, where it goes, what it becomes and how it benefits the local community. A crystal clear communications campaign to get this information to every household is essential if we are to drive up recycling rates and meet our national recycling targets. ECO Plastics urges the revenue to be invested in projects like RECOUP’s Plastics Please campaign, set to launch later this year, and get Britain recycling more.”