Saving environment: UK doubles price of plastic bag to Dh0.50

Prasun Sonwalkar/London
Filed on May 7, 2021
Photo: Reuters

Hike in line with Johnson government's bid to protect the environs

Keen to protect the environment, the Boris Johnson government in the United Kingdom (UK) on Thursday announced that shoppers have to pay more if they need a plastic bag to carry their items: the current price of 5 pence (Dh0.25) per bag will double to 10 pence (Dh0.50) from May 21.

The single-use carrier bag charge of 5 pence was introduced in 2015 and has since seen a 95 per cent cut in plastic bag sales in major supermarkets. The charge will be extended to all businesses in England to help drive down the bag sales further.

After the 5 pence charge was made mandatory, the average person in England now buys only four single-use carrier bags in a year from the main supermarkets, compared with 140 in 2014. By extending the charge to all retailers, it is expected that the use of single-use carrier bags will decrease by up to 80 per cent.

Doubling the price comes as new research finds the charge is supported overwhelmingly by the public – with 95 per cent of people in England acknowledging the wide-ranging benefits to the environment so far. Since the introduction of the charge, retailers have donated over £150 million (m) (Dh766.69m) to good causes in charity, volunteering, the environment, and the health sectors.

British Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The introduction of the 5 pence charge has been a phenomenal success, driving down sales of harmful plastic bags in supermarkets by a remarkable 95 per cent. 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”.

She added: “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.”

A plastic packaging tax is to be introduced from April 2022 for products that do not have at least 30 per cent recycled content.

Sunjiv Shah of Uber Eats UK said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for businesses to tackle plastic waste and to support good causes. Everyone can help play a role in protecting the environment by reducing the use of single-use plastic bags”.

Officials said that the development would help the UK build back better and greener from the Covid-19 pandemic. In its war against plastic pollution, the UK has banned microbeads in rinse-off personal care products and prohibited the supply of plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds.

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