A pedestrian stands with six plastic shopping bags on Oxford Street in London, U.K. (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg)

U.K. Plans to Double Charge on Plastic Bags for Consumers

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. is planning to double the charge on disposable plastic bags issued by the country’s largest retailers to 10 pence (about 13 cents) as part of a drive to protect the environment.

The fee will also be extended to all small shops, according to the plans published on Thursday by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The proposals are subject to the results of an eight-week public comment period. The current five-pence charge, introduced in 2015, has cut average annual usage to 19 bags a person from 140, according to government figures.

U.K. Plans to Double Charge on Plastic Bags for Consumers

“Between us, we have taken over 15 billion plastic bags out of circulation,” Environment Secretary Michael Gove said in a statement. “But we want to do even more to protect our precious planet, and today’s announcement will accelerate further behavior change and build on the success of the existing charge.”

Prime Minister Theresa May has declared war on plastics, blamed by environmentalists on choking waterways and killing seabirds and mammals. In January, May outlined plans to eliminate all avoidable waste by 2042. Her government has already banned tiny plastic microbeads found in cosmetics, proposed a deposit return program for plastic bottles and examined restrictions on plastic-lined disposable coffee cups.

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