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Retailers are encouraged to donate cash raised from the plastic bag charge to a charity or charities of their choice, but this isn't compulsory.
Retailers can choose what to do with the money, but they must give the Government an annual report on what they do.
Extending the charge to cover smaller retailers would bring England in line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where minimum plastic bag charges already apply to shops of all sizes.
The plastic bag charge overhaul is the latest in a series of Government measures designed to cut plastic waste – for example, it's also consulting on a deposit return scheme for single-use drinks containers.
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The Government is proposing to increase the current 5p minimum charge for a bag to 10p.
It also plans to extend the charge to all retailers.
The easiest way to avoid the plastic bag charge is simply to bring your own bags with you when shopping. Doing this ensures you're saving cash AND avoiding using extra plastic – for more help, see our blog on 13 ways to use less plastic and save cash.
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The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs says the current 5p minimum charge has already cut plastic bag use by 86% in major supermarkets, and it wants the new rules to encourage people to change their behaviour further and use less plastic.
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