Liberal Democrats have promised to remove all charging exemptions for single use bags in England in the next parliament if they are returned to a position of power.
Under the current legislation being implemented in October, SMEs do not have to charge 5p for such bags, a less widespread use of the ‘levy’ than Wales or Scotland.
The proposal would also include paper bags.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says extending that policy to SMEs would take an extra 3.5 billion single-use plastic bags out of circulation each year.
The party would introduce a new Nature Bill and over the course of 10 years, removing exemptions would also deliver overall net benefits for SMEs of £300m and overall net benefits to consumers of almost £100m.
Clegg said: “The facts are simple; single use bags blight our towns and countryside, they trap and suffocate wildlife, and plastic bags take hundreds of years to degrade.
“The countdown to charging has begun, and by the time it arrives this autumn, reusable bags should increasingly be commonplace. As we get used to it, the hundreds of millions raised from the charge will go to charities. But we need to do much more. We need to go further and faster.”