A DIRECTOR of a successful Worcester firm says extending the 5p tax to small retailers across England could reduce demand for single use plastic bags by more than one billion a year.

The figure has been released by Worcester-based Jutexpo, the world’s biggest supplier of reusable jute, cotton and juco bags, which has more than 80 per cent of the UK market.

Demand for plastic bags has already fallen by more than nine billion since the introduction of the tax on single use plastic carriers in shops or chains with 250 or more full-time employees across England two years ago.

And this week Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042.

Sam Turner, compliance director of Broadway-based Jutexpo, said: “The carrier bag charge has made a big difference across the country and led to a reduction in the number of bags used by more than 80 percent in England.

“This means that more than nine billion fewer plastic bags have been used.

“Most people visit a smaller retailer on a regular basis and although they don’t tend to buy as much, this move by the government will still lead to a further reduction in plastic bag demand of more than one billion a year."