The UK Government has unveiled plans to extend its 5 pence plastic bag charge to all retailers, subject to consultation.
The 5p plastic bag charge, which was introduced in October 2015, currently applies to just big businesses.
The government said that it will also consult on increasing the minimum charge to at least 10 pence.
According to the government, since the introduction of 5 pence charge, plastic bag sales in major supermarkets have declined by 86%.
UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Thanks to the public’s support, our plastic bag charge has been hugely successful. It has taken 13 billion plastic bags out of circulation in the last two years alone.
“Today we are building on that success to ensure we leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.”
More than three billion bags are expected to be supplied by small and medium sized enterprises every year.
The steps taken by the government will help to cut down the number of unnecessary bags still in use, and which litter towns and rivers.
The announcement comes during the Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to Kenya, where she has announced an additional six African Commonwealth Countries, Seychelles, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Namibia and the Gambia have joined the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance, pledging their support to end the scourge of plastics in oceans.
May said: “We have taken huge strides to improve the environment, and the charge on plastic bags in supermarkets and big retailers has demonstrated the difference we can achieve by making small changes to our everyday habits.”
Earlier this year, the UK government unveiled its intention to ban the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.
A deposit return scheme is also planned to increase recycling rates of drinks bottles and cans subject to consultation.
The Federation of Independent Retailers national president Mike Mitchelson said: “We welcome the announcement that the 5p plastic bag levy is likely to be extended to smaller shops. Independent retailers are environmentally friendly and like to play their part in reducing plastic waste so many of our members have already chosen to implement the 5p charge.”