Further proof – as if any was needed – as to why smaller shops should charge customers 5p for carrier bags come October has been laid bare with the publication of latest figures for plastic bag use.

According to data from the Waste and Resources Action Programme, 8.5billion bags were given out in supermarkets alone in England in 2014 – an increase of 2.3% when compared to 2013. Usage per month was also up, from 10.8 bags to 11.

In comparison, usage in Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland has dropped significantly since a levy for bags from stores of all sizes was introduced.

For environmental reasons and the benefit of local good causes, the carrier bag levy in England has to be a good move, but as regular readers of this column will know, the NFRN  does not believe the legislation goes far enough.

For that reason we have lobbied long and hard, firstly advising the then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and the previous Defra Minister Dan Rogerson as to why their plans should be overturned to enable independent retailers to charge their customers for single-use carrier bags.

More recently, we have turned our efforts towards persuading Rogerson’s successor Rory Stewart to include small businesses in the levy, but exclude them from the reporting requirements – the method successfully adopted in Wales and Scotland. Not doing so, we have told him, will confuse customers, deprive local charities and projects of valuable donations and lessen the impact on the environment.

Come October, when all large stores and supermarkets start charging their customers 5p for carrier bags we will be recommending to our members that they do so too.

To assist, we have recently sent our English members a poster they can display in their stores to make their customers aware that they will be charging for single-use carrier bags and to advise that the proceeds will be donated to charity.

And I would strongly urge you to do the same. To assist, you can download a copy of the poster from the NFRN website, help protect our environment and continue the great work you do in supporting local good causes.