From Autumn 2015 single-use carrier bags in England will be subject to a 5p levy, the Government has announced.
It's expected that the charging scheme in England will follow the Welsh model in which retailers voluntarily give profits to charity. Small businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be exempt from the charge to ensure that they are not "disproportionately burdened" by the charges.
Environment Minister, Lord de Mauley, said introducing a charge for plastic bags would "make people think twice before throwing them away" and that without a charge " the problem could escalate out of control and see our environment and animals suffer enormously."
Previous calls for the introduction of a carrier bag tax were met with concern by the plastics industry, including the Packaging and Films Association (PAFA) and the British Plastics Federation (BPF), who have objected to the vilification of plastic bags as a single entity when considering the problem of littering and environmental issues.
The government has also said it will incentivise the manufacture of biodegradable bags. "Provided the bags meet the required criteria, these could be exempt from a charge," Lord de Mauley said.