Independent retailers have praised Environment Secretary Michael Gove for promising to further reduce plastic waste but say the government has missed a trick by exempting them from charging for single use plastic bags.

Mr Gove’s commitment came as new statistics published today (Friday) show that nine billion fewer plastic bags were used since a 5p charge was introduced in department stores and supermarkets.

NFRN Chief Executive Paul Baxter said: “This reduction is highly impressive but think how many fewer bags might have been used if smaller independent retailers in England had been included in the charge since the beginning?”

The NFRN has now thrown down a challenge to the government to extend the legislation to stores of all sizes.

Mr Baxter said: “Our members continued to be baffled by the fact that they are excluded from implementing a charge when it is clear that the levy charged by big stores and supermarkets is having a marked effect on usage.

“For that reason we are renewing calls for all shops – big and small – to charge for plastic bags, but with reduced reporting requirements for businesses with fewer than ten employees. This will stop any confusion among customers, help our members cut their own costs and raise more money for local worthy charities.”

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