Plastic bag charge extended to all businesses in England from April

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have announced that single use plastic bag charge will be increased to from 5p to 10p and apply to all businesses in England from April 2021.

The charge on plastic bags ministers hope will see single use plastic bag usage decrease dramatically as customers will now have an incentive to use long life bags made from environmentally friendly and more sustainable materials.

It is said that smaller retailers in England currently supply about 3.6 billion single-use bags annually. Whilst the plastic bag charge in some shops is expected to be donated to good causes, it is not compulsory for retailers to do so. Additionally, although Defra estimated roughly £51 million was donated from 2017-2018, some retailers chose to keep the money instead.

Countryside Charity CPRE said in response to the increased charge that it was time to “step up and face the war on plastic”. “Government should bring in charges on all single-use, throwaway items – from takeaway cups to wooden forks,” said Tom Fyans, deputy chief executive.

“Incentivising re-use systems and finally committing to an all-in Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers are the only ways the government can achieve a litter-free countryside and win the war on waste.” He continued.

Whilst cycling prides itself on its sustainable and environmentally friendly nature, there is still a duty to reduce the use of amount of single use plastic within the industry. Cycling Industry News’ Independent retailer study, published earlier this year asked roughly 10% of the UK’s independent retailers what they would like suppliers to improve upon and whilst answers varied, 45% answered ‘reduced packaging’. Whilst this doesn’t explicitly reference single use plastic bags, single use plastic in general has remained an issue within all areas of retail.

Early 2019 saw brands such as Decathlon and its own bike brand B’Twin join the war against single use plastic by signing up to The Plastic Leak Project, which helps businesses reduce their plastic footprints in a bid to turn the tide on plastic pollution in our oceans. Work such as this is a vital step in the right direction for the cycling industry.

Additionally, 2020 saw the brand Muc-Off donate over £7,500 to the Marine Conservation Society, as a result of an administrative error between 2012-16 concerning the recycling of its business waste.

The Environment Agency states that companies with a turnover of £2 million or more, who also handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging per year, must ensure a certain percentage is recycled by registering with a packaging scheme, or directly with the Environment Agency.

Muc-Off recently made a commitment to deliver numerous environmentally-focused improvements as part of their Project Green initiative, which includes the elimination of over 30 tonnes of plastic.