Shops with fewer than 250 employees are currently exempt from the charge, which was introduced in England in October 2015.
At the time, it was stated small and medium-sized businesses will be exempt from the charge to “avoid imposing burdens on start-up and growing businesses in England at a time when the Government is supporting new growth in our economy”.
The 5p charge in England has contributed to a reduction of nearly 90% in their use, the government says. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland also introduced charges and have seen significant drops in usage.
The initiative was aimed at reducing litter, with bags being one of the most highly visible forms of litter on our streets, roads, hedges, parks, trees, beaches and, ultimately, in our oceans, all with potentially devastating effects, according to Keep Britain Tidy.
According to reports by the BBC, the move to extend the charge is expected to come as part of the government’s highly-anticipated 25-year environment plan, which is expected to be published this week.
The plan is expected to take a stand against the “profligate” use of natural resources. The news follows the implementation of a UK-wide microbead ban, which came into effect yesterday (9 Jan) in order to help reduce the amount of micro plastics making their way into the world’s oceans.
In 2015 we introduced the 5p charge on plastic carrier bags, we now see 9bn fewer bags being used. It’s making a real difference. We want to do the same with single use plastics. Nobody who watched #BluePlanet2 will doubt the need for us to do something – and we will. #Marr
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) January 7, 2018