A five pence mandatory charge for single use carrier bags will be introduced from Autumn 2015.
Last year, over 7bn carrier bags were issued by supermarkets in England and the Government says that far too many of these ended up in landfill, blighted streets and rivers killed wildlife, which costs tax-payers millions of pounds to clean-up.
Similar charges in Ireland, Wales and Switzerland have led to an 80 percent reduction in the number of carrier bags issued.
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said: “This is not a new problem. We’ve waited too long for action. That’s why I am drawing a line under the issue now. The charge will be implemented sensibly – small businesses will be exempt”
“We will discuss with retailers how the money raised should be spent but I call on them to follow the lead of industry in Wales and donate the proceeds to charity.”
Environment Minister Lord de Mauley said: “We have all seen the effects of discarded plastic bags caught in trees and hedges or ending up in rivers where they harm animals.”
“Introducing a small charge for plastic bags will make people think twice before throwing them away. Year on year, the number of bags issued by retailers has been rising. Without a charge, the problem could escalate out of control and see our environment and animals suffer enormously.”
It’s expected that the charging scheme in England will follow the Welsh model in which retailers voluntarily give profits to charity. Small businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be exempt from the charge to ensure that they are not disproportionately burdened by the charges.