East Sussex shoppers now have to pay 5p for each carrier bag

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Large shops across England must charge at least 5p for every single-use carrier bag from today (Monday, October 5).

Small retailers are not obliged to charge but can do so on a voluntary basis. 2013 saw more than 7.4 billion plastic bags averaging 133 bags for each person.

Shoppers can avoid paying the charge either by reusing carrier bags or by using multi-use bags for life.

Here is a list of five things you need to know about the forthcoming charge.

1 - It will protect the environment

The environment is undoubtedly important to preserve and adding the five pence charge is predicted to reduce carrier bag use by 80 per cent in larger supermarkets.

This will also limit litter and pollution which currently stands a substantial issue.

2 - Reduce the amount of carrier bags issued

2013 saw more than 7.6 billion single-use plastic bags given to shoppers by major supermarkets in England.

That’s the equivalent to 61,000 tonnes in total.

Plastic carrier bags take longer than other materials to degrade in the environment, can damage wildlife, and are extremely visible when littered.

3 - What bags are exempt?

- Paper bags.

- Shops in transit places such as airports, or on board trains, aeroplanes or ships.

- Bags only containing certain items, such as unwrapped food, raw meat and fish. Need not to worry you won’t be charged for the plastic bag these items are placed in.

4 - The charge will produce billions of pounds

The five pence charge of a plastic bag is expected to rake in a staggering £1.5bn in tax over the next 10 years.

5 - How many carrier bags are you hoarding?

The average household has around 40 bags scattered around the home - millions remain unused.

Keep Britain Tidy has campaigned for years for the introduction of the charge, along with other environmental charities, as part of the “Break the Bag Habit” coalition.

In Wales, where a bag charge has been in place since 2011, there has been a reduction in bag use of around 70 per cent.

Each year, Keep Britain Tidy surveys the amount of litter in England and the 2013/14 survey found plastic bags to be littered on over one in ten sites surveyed. Plastic bag litter was found on more sites than either chewing gum or dog fouling.

Allison Ogden-Newton, Keep Britain Tidy’s Chief Executive, said, “We applaud the introduction of the single-use carrier bag charge.

“This is the first government action in a decade that is specifically designed to tackle our country’s litter issue. We hope the charge will see a significant reduction in the use, and subsequent littering, of plastic bags.

“Obviously there is a lot more that needs to be done to change the behaviour of those who think it is acceptable to throw their rubbish on the floor but Monday marks a significant first step on the road to a litter-free country.”

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