The Association of Convenience Store (ACS) has again called on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to include all stores in England in the 5p carrier bag charge.

Currently only businesses with more than 250 employees are included in the charging scheme, with smaller businesses exempt. However, in Wales and Scotland, the charge applies to all stores.

In the consultation period before the introduction of the charge in England, the Environmental Audit Committee recommended that the charge be universal following the model already in place in Wales.

The call comes as supermarket retailer Tesco announced that it would be removing 5p carrier bags from sale in favour of 10p bags for life.

Recent figures from DEFRA show that among large retailers in England, there has been an 83% reduction in the number of single use carrier bags sold. According to DEFRA’s data, large retailers in England sold a total of 2.1 billion single-use plastic carrier bags during the year from 7 April 2016 to 6 April 2017.

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.”