"The carrier bag charge has made a big difference across the country and led to a reduction in the number of bags used by more than 80 percent in England."
Sam Turner, compliance director of Jutexpo
Extending the 5p tax to small retailers across England could reduce demand for single use plastic bags by more than one billion a year, it has been revealed.
Demand for plastic bags has already fallen by more than nine billion since the introduction of the tax on single use plastic carriers in shops or chains with 250 or more full-time employees across England two years ago.
Sam Turner, compliance director of Jutexpo, welcomed the Government plans and said they were an ideal opportunity for smaller retailers to embrace the fight to improve the environment.
He said the move would also allow smaller retailers to use reusable bags to promote themselves within the local community.
However, he said the changes could increase the administration burden on smaller shops and it was unclear how the 5p tax would be managed and monitored.
Sam Turner said: “The carrier bag charge has made a big difference across the country and led to a reduction in the number of bags used by more than 80 percent in England.
“This means that more than nine billion fewer plastic bags have been used.
“Most people visit a smaller retailer on a regular basis and although they don’t tend to buy as much, this move by the government will still lead to a further reduction in plastic bag demand of more than one billion a year.
“It is a great opportunity for smaller shop owners to embrace the move to protect the environment and also use reusable bags to promote themselves in a more long-lasting way.”
“But smaller retailers don’t have as many staff and there will be an administrative burden involved in implementing the changes.
“The donation of the 5p paid for each bag to charity was also one of the big bonuses of the bag tax and it is unclear how this will be administered and monitored in smaller retailers.”
Jutexpo revealed that the average shopper previously used at least three single use plastic bags a week and a jute bag replaces the need for as many as 624 disposable plastic bags over its four-year lifespan.
The new 5p charge for single use plastic bags was introduced in England on October 5 2015 to help reduce litter and protect wildlife. Similar bag taxes were introduced in Scotland in 2014, Northern Ireland in 2013 and Wales in 2011.
Jutexpo’s bag production rose from 5.5million bags per year before the English plastic bag tax was introduced to 8.5million in the year of the bag tax and 7million a year since.
Jutexpo has supplied 15,500,000 jute, cotton and juco bags in the last two years at a rate of up to one bag every four seconds.