Wales passed a similar law in 2011, Northern Ireland followed suit in 2013 and Scotland joined them last year. All have led to significant decreases in plastic bag use, with Wales recording a 78.2 percent reduction in the number of bags handed out since 2010. England is the last country in the U.K. to start charging for plastic bags.
In 2014 over 7.6 billion single-use plastic bags were given to customers by major supermarkets in England. That's something like 140 bags per person, equivalent to 61,000 tonnes in total.
The government is trying to cut this waste. It is hoped that the charge will cut single use of carrier bags by 80 percent in supermarkets and 50 percent on the high street. They reckon there's money in it too – up to £780 million for the U.K. economy and £13 million saved in carbon costs.