Corner shops and other retailers with less than 250 employees are currently exempted from the charging customers 5p for a carrier bag in England. The 5p charge on carrier bags is set to be extended under plans to tackle the “throwaway culture” in a 25-year Environment Plan.

Prime Minister Theresa May said she wanted her Government to take a stand against the “profligate” use of natural resources as she briefed her Cabinet about the plan.

Environment Secretary Mr Micheal Gove showed he was ready to practise what he preached, by turning up for the meeting clutching a reusable coffee mug.

At a Cabinet meeting, Mr Gove told colleagues that the introduction of the 5p charge on single-use plastic bags had contributed to a reduction of nearly 90% in their use, in a clear demonstration of what can be achieved by targeted official action.

He said the Government was “determined to tackle the throwaway culture which plastics encapsulate” and its plan would set out details of how to reduce demand for them.

Mrs May told Cabinet that the Government had “a clear belief in conserving what is good and standing up against the profligate use of resources, whether that is public money or natural resources”, said her official spokesman.

The 25-year Environment plan would “send a strong message to the public about the Government’s commitment to be the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than it inherited”.

Prime Minister Mrs May has unveiled plans to plant 50 million trees in a “Northern Forest” stretching along the M62 corridor between Liverpool and Hull over the coming 25 years, to boost habitat for wildlife including birds and bats, protect species such as the red squirrel and provide more access to woodlands for millions of people living in the area.


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