Government plans to extend the single use plastic carrier bag charge to small retailers in England have been welcomed by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The Government’s consultation published on 27 December sets out plans to extend the charge to small retailers by 2020 and seeks views on increasing the charge from 5p to 10p.

ACS chief executive James Lowman, said: “We welcome the Government’s plans to extend carrier bag charging to all shops.”

“This has been shown to be highly effective at reducing waste, while also raising money for local, national and environmental charities. Around half of small shops in England already charge for plastic bags voluntarily, with wider support for a mandatory charge.

“We will continue to work with the government as they develop this policy, including looking closely at the right level of charge to balance deterring unnecessary use of carrier bags, and ensuring that consumers don’t feel they are having to pay too much if they forget their own bags or are making unplanned shopping trips.  We also need to look carefully at the reporting requirements for small businesses, where the system in place in Wales is proportionate and does not impose new bureaucratic requirements on small retailers.”

ACS has been working with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to encourage retailers to voluntarily charge for plastic bags but has been campaigning for the plastic bag charge to be formally extended to small retailers.

The Government proposals would exclude small retailers with less than 250 employees from any reporting obligations to reduce administrative burdens.