U.K. Considers Doubling Levy on Plastic Bags to Tackle Waste

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. is proposing to double the mandatory charge for single-use plastic bags dispensed by retailers to 10 pence (13 cents).

The introduction in 2015 of a 5 pence charge on plastic bags handed out by large retailers cut usage by the biggest seven supermarket chains by 86 percent. Now ministers want to include small- and medium-sized retailers, which currently hand out more than 3 billion bags a year.

The new measures will be subject to a consultation later this year, Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said Thursday in a statement as she visited the United Nations Environment Program in Nairobi, Kenya.

“The charge on plastic bags in supermarkets and big retailers has demonstrated the difference we can achieve by making small changes to our everyday habits,” May said.

May announced a so-called war on plastics this year, seeking to eliminate “avoidable” waste by 2042. The government banned the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics, and also plans to bar the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and Q-tips. Ministers are also exploring the introduction of a deposit return program to boost recycling rates for plastic bottles.

On Thursday, May also pledged 250,000 pounds to help Nairobi host a conference on oceans in November as part of a range of initiatives to tackle marine pollution.

“With over 12 million tonnes of plastic making their way into our oceans each year, plastic pollution is one of the biggest challenges facing the environment today,” May said. “But marine litter is a global problem, and cleaning up our seas and oceans requires a global effort.”

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