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Shops to charge 5p for bags from today


Shoppers in England will now be hit with a 5p charge for plastic carrier bags in all supermarkets and large shops in the UK.

The charge has been put in place by the government and has been introduced in a bid to cut down on the 7.6 billion bags handed out every year.

Retailers who have more than 250 staff members must now charge at least 5p for the bags they provider for shopping. Smaller shops will not have to pay the charge, and paper bags will be exempt from the rule. There will also be no charge on bags for people buying uncooked meat, poultry or fish, prescription medicine, certain fresh produce such as flowers or potatoes, and unwrapped ready-to-eat food.

Environmentalists have welcomed the change but still believe more can be done to stop the flow of plastic bags in England.

Plastic bags are not biodegradable and can remain in landfill for hundreds of years. The move to charge for the bags is expected to cut plastic carrier bags by 80% in supermarket and 50% in the high street. The 5p will not go to the retailer, but instead to good causes and local charities.

Environment minister Rory Stewart said:
"Simple changes to our shopping routines, such as taking our own bags with us or using more bags for life, can make a huge difference in reducing the amount of plastic in circulation, meaning we can all enjoy a cleaner, healthier country."

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