BUSINESSES in Basingstoke and north Hampshire have reacted to the doubling of the price of plastic bags.

As previously reported by the Gazette, the price of single-use plastic bags is due to double on May 21.

The current price, 5p, was introduced in 2015 and has seen the number of bags customers buy per year decline by 97 per cent.

The Gazette spoke to businesses in Basingstoke and north Hampshire to get their view on the announcement.

Nad Buddhika who runs Eastrop Stores in Basingstoke said: “I think this is a good thing. This will help the environment and stop people using more plastic.

"I think shoppers will get used it very quickly and it will hopefully get them to bring their own bags.”

Meanwhile, Frederick Gibson of Worting Road News told the Gazette: “We need to ensure that the environment is protected but there is also a need for us to take care of our customers. This is a complex issue. I think 10p is probably a good thing but I would hate to see it raised beyond that.”

Asked whether he thought customers would be annoyed by the increase in price, Mr Gibson added: “I don’t think they will be, I know they will be!”

In Andover, Hars Kula, owner of the Reliance Local shop, said: “I think 10p for a plastic bag is too much. I would understand more if the bag was really good quality, but for a normal plastic bag, I think this is overpriced.”

There is also a noticeable uptake from independent shops to no longer sell any plastic bags at all.

Longdog Brewery on West Ham Lane told the Gazette they stopped selling all plastic bags a while ago, whilst plastic bag use in independent charity shops such as St Michael’s Hospice shop and Annie’s charity comes exclusively from reused bags.

Research from the sustainability charity Wrap found that 94 per cent of people own a re-usable ‘bag for life’.

When the 5p charge was first introduced, it was supported by 69 per cent of people, this has since risen to 73 per cent.

Nonetheless, over a quarter of people continue to purchase bags from the till when shopping, though this is significantly down from 57 per cent prior to the introduction of the 5p charge.

The survey also found that people reused bags predominantly for environmental concerns (74 per cent), while 59 per cent used them for the functional benefit, and 40 per cent to save money.

The 5p price for plastic bag has, up until now, only applied to business with 250 employees or more. However, from the May 21, all shops will be legally obliged to charge for bags.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: "I urge all retailers of all sizes to make sure they are ready for the changes, as we work together to build back greener and strengthen our world-leading action to combat the scourge of plastic waste."