The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has reiterated its calls to Government to remove the exemption for small businesses on single use carrier bags in England.

Under the current regulations, small businesses with fewer than 250 employees are exempt from the carrier bag charging regulations, meaning that they do not have to charge 5p for single use bags. However, many stores have introduced a charge voluntarily to raise money for local causes. These rules only apply in England, as in Scotland and Wales the bag charge applies to all businesses regardless of size.

The call comes as new research conducted by Cardiff University has shown that around 90% of people take their own bags with them when food shopping, with the number of people taking single use carrier bags at the till reducing from 25% to just 7%.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The introduction of the carrier bag charge has been an example of successful legislation that has benefitted both the environment through the reduction in the number of single use bags used in stores, as well as charitable causes that receive funds raised through the bag charge. A universal charge works well in Scotland and Wales and should be extended to England as soon as possible to remove any element of confusion for both consumers and retailers.”

Figures released in July this year have shown that England’s single-use bag usage has dropped by 85% in the major supermarkets since its introduction, with 500 million bags being given out in stores compared to 7 billion in the previous year.